The Washington Post

Draft surprise: Rice 3B Anthony Rendon falls to Nationals with sixth overall pick

Toss out all the projections and mock drafts, which were rendered obsolete two picks into tonight MLB draft. By the time the Nationals’ turn came with the No. 6 overall pick, the players most frequently linked to them were gone, and they selected Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Rendon was the top-rated player in the draft, according to industry bible Baseball America, and was projected by many analysts to go within the first handful of picks. He fell to the Nationals at No. 6 primarily due to injury concerns — he has had ankle and shoulder injuries in recent years, the latter of which has prevented him from playing in the field for much of this season.

“I’m feeling great,” he said in an interview on the MLB Network. ”I’m having no problems right now. The injuries only made me stronger as a person.”

After the Pittsburgh Pirates, as expected, took UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick, the Seattle Mariners threw the proceedings into a temporary state of chaos with a surprise pick at No. 2 — University of Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen. Hultzen, a Bethesda native and St. Albans alum, was seen by many draft experts as a possibility for the Nationals at No. 6.

“This was completely unexpected,” Hultzen said in a brief interview on the MLB Network. “Tremendous honor, though.”

After the Arizona Diamondbacks took UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer at No. 3, the Baltimore Orioles took right-hander Trevor Bundy of Owasso (Okla.) High School, the top-rated prep pitcher in the draft. Bundy, 18, was 11-0 with a 0.20 ERA and 158 strikeouts and only five walks in 71 innings this season.

At No. 5, the Kansas City Royals took outfielder Bubba Starling of Gardner, Kan., the player most frequently linked to the Nationals in the pre-draft buildup.

We’ll have more on the draft soon.

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m: With the No. 23 overall pick, the Nationals took Alex Meyer, a towering (6-foot-9), flamethrowing (fastball that sits in the upper 90s) right-hander from the University of Kentucky. Baseball America rated him as the 19th-best pitcher in the draft, though his ceiling might be even higher.

Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.

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