There's still a long time between now and the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but a prospect considered by many to be one of the top picks has already had a fairly major setback.
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, an early front-runner to be the No. 1 pick next June, suffered a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle on Wednesday night while playing in a USA Baseball Collegiate Team exhibition against Korea. He will require surgery and will miss the rest of Team USA's summer season.
Playing at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., Rendon was carted off the field and taken to the hospital for X-rays and treatment. The injury occurred in the first inning. Rendon was picked off of first base, and while trying to avoid a tag in a rundown, his right leg got caught underneath him.
Rendon will return to Houston on Friday for evaluation and surgery. Dr. Thomas Clanton, one of the premiere specialists in the country, according to Rice head coach Wayne Graham, will perform the surgery on Rendon's ankle.
"The care and safety of the players and student-athletes is always foremost," said Graham. "We'll use every resource we have to assure that Anthony is returned to full health. In my opinion, Dr. Thomas Clanton is the best orthopedist in the country and we're thankful he and the Rice doctors are going to see to Anthony's care."
Clanton and Rendon aren't strangers. Clanton worked on Rendon's ankle in 2009, when the third baseman tore ligaments while playing in the Baton Rouge Super Regional. He missed the chance to play in summer 2009 as a result, but came back in 2010 to be a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist as a sophomore. Rendon hit .394 with 26 homers and 85 RBIs in 63 games for the Owls. He had a .530 on-base percentage and .801 slugging percentage over 226 at-bats.
Rendon piled up hardware as a result of his efforts. He was the 2010 Howser Trophy Award winner as the national college baseball player of the year, determined by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He was also named the Baseball America Player of the Year, earned first-team All-America honors from a number of media organizations, was named the Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year as well as the conference's top baseball player for the second straight season.
There is hope that, if all goes well with the surgery and rehab, Rendon could be ready to start the 2011 season on time. He'll obviously have to prove to scouts that he's healthy and that the ankle won't be a long-term problem, especially since this is the second time it's been injured. If he can do that, there's no question his overall abilities will keep him at or near the top of most Draft boards next spring.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.