Washington third base prospect Anthony Rendon still can't believe how far he's come in one year.
The sixth overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Rendon has gone from a collegiate standout at Rice University to one of the best young infielders in the Minors. Now he's holding his own among the top prospects in the country.
Rendon went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a sacrifice fly, a walk, a stolen base and four RBIs as the Salt River Rafters outslugged the Scottsdale Scorpions, 14-12, in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday evening.
"It's pretty crazy," Rendon said. "It was just one year ago that I got drafted and that was a dream come true. Now I'm living out the dream and playing baseball for a living.
"Where I came from a couple months ago, I was in a cast in rehab. I just needed more time and more at-bats to get comfortable on the baseball field again. To be where I am right now is amazing."
Rendon, who had shoulder and ankle injuries in college, reinjured his left ankle in the first week of the 2012 season and was unable to return to action until July. After speeding through four levels in three months, the 22-year-old is now making up for lost time.
Washington's top prospect plated Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, and he doubled to right field to chase home Corey Dickerson (Rockies) in the fourth. He walked in the fifth before ripping an RBI single to left field in the seventh, stealing second base and scoring on a double by Lars Davis (Rockies).
In the eighth, Rendon doubled to center field to score Dickerson to give the Rafters a 14-10 advantage and complete Salt River's scoring.
"It was an up-and-down game, a real roller-coaster," said Rendon, who suited up with the Nationals' Gulf Coast League affiliate before moving on to Class A Short-Season Auburn, Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
"They took the lead, we tied it, they took the lead again then we got ahead. It was about as much fun as you can have on a baseball field. It was a hitters' duel. When everyone is hitting the ball to left field and right field, it's an exciting game."
Rendon was not the only hitter to feast on pitching. Left fielder Dickerson was 4-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored, second baseman Sanchez was a perfect 5-for-5 with a double and five runs scored and backstop Davis was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and four RBIs. While the top four hitters in the Rafters lineup went a combined 2-for-17, the bottom five were 18-for-23 with 12 RBIs and six extra-base hits.
"It's amazing, I think it's pretty crazy how many good players we have on this team," MLB.com's No. 33 prospect said of the Rafters, which collected 20 hits and twice rallied from behind. "It should be illegal to have this many good guys on one team."
Scottsdale received plenty of offense too. Third baseman David Adams (Yankees) homered twice and plated three runs, cleanup hitter Matt Curry (Pirates) missed hitting for the cycle by a triple, and fellow Pittsburgh second baseman Gift Ngoepe collected three hits and an RBI from the No. 9 spot.
Rafters reliever Isaiah Froneberger (1-0) earned the win in relief after allowing a run on one hit -- Adams' solo homer -- over an inning of relief. Starter Ryan Perry (Nationals) surrendered four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out two batters over 3 2/3 innings.
Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances (1-2) took the loss, yielding four runs on five hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning.