Rice’s Anthony Rendon named National Freshman of the Year

Rice’s Anthony Rendon named National Freshman of the Year
Collegiate Baseball selects Rendon for a top award

Rice News staff

Already an All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball, Rice third baseman and Wiess College freshman Anthony Rendon was named 2009 Louisville Slugger National Freshman of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday.

“I’m speechless,” Rendon said. “It’s a great honor. A lot of great players have earned this title, and I feel so blessed to be among them. This is one of my biggest accomplishments and the icing on the cake.”


Rendon has had a sensational debut season at the Division I level. He became the first player in Conference USA history to be named both the league Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Rendon leads the league in home runs (19) and slugging percentage (.688), and he is tops on the team and among the C-USA’s best in batting average (.384) and RBIs (70).

The Houston native from nearby Lamar High School has scored 57 runs, with 13 doubles, and he has been walked 31 times for a .458 on-base average. Rendon has also stolen nine bases and played outstanding defense at the demanding hot corner.

Rendon attributes the secret of his success to a relaxed approach to the game and fierce support from family and friends.

“You’ve got to stay relaxed,” he said. “It’s still baseball. You can’t try to do too much out there. You’ve got to stay ready, stay calm and play baseball. You’ve got to stay with your team.”

Head coach Wayne Graham said it’s that attitude that sets Rendon apart from his college baseball peers. 

“Rendon is an inspiration because he plays so relaxed, and yet he’s always ready,” Graham said. “You can never predict that a freshman will do what Rendon has done this season. He plays the game more like a professional than a college student.”

Like any college student, Rendon has spent much of his time this school year learning. On the diamond is no exception. He has spent countless hours working with Graham and his coaching staff. He even tweaked his swing per his coaches’ suggestions.

“I’ve grown a lot physically and mentally since starting at Rice,” Rendon said. “The coaching staff has helped me out of lot. I’ve been able to learn from them a lot of the mental aspects of the game. Rice has such a great baseball program. I’m so grateful I get to experience it.”

Unwavering support from his family has also been a foundation for Rendon. His family tries to make it to all of his games at Reckling Park. And it’s not just his mom and dad in the stands. Often, it’s the entire Rendon clan.

“My teammates and coaches often kid around with me about it,” he said, laughing. “They’ll point to a big section of the crowd and say, ‘Oh look. There’s the Rendon family again.’ I can’t blame them either. Sometimes as many as 20 family members come out to support me.”

While he has always had his family fans, Rendon had his first chance to appreciate the Rice fans this year. He feels very fortunate to have made good friends in the close-knit community.

“Rice has supported me a lot. Even people I don’t know will come up to me on campus and say ‘Congratulations on the win’ or say that I’m doing a good job. I have a lot of support. I feel comfortable around here.”

Adding to that comfort is the knowledge that when he does leave the Owls’ nest, he’ll do so with a Rice education. It was that opportunity that brought Rendon to Rice.

“People would tell me that Rice is always going to be here when I was considering going right into professional baseball,” he recalled. “But I thought, ‘Pro baseball isn’t going anywhere either, so I might as well take this chance to get a Rice education.’ I mean, it’s Rice University; you can’t just pass that up.”

Rendon is the Owls’ first National Freshman of the Year since Joe Savery, an eventual first-round draft pick by Major League Baseball, in 2005. This season Rice has a 43-16 record and recently won the NCAA Houston (Rice) Regional.

USA Baseball announced last week that Rendon was named one of 30 national semifinalists for the 2009 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the nation’s premier amateur baseball player. Rendon is the only freshman among the Golden Spikes Award national semifinalists. He is also a national semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which recognizes the top college player as selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

This week, the Owls take on No. 1-ranked LSU in the NCAA Super Regional in Baton Rouge, La., at 6 p.m. June 5. Game two begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, and both will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. A third game, if necessary, will be at 6 p.m. Sunday and broadcast on ESPN2. The winner of that best-of-three series gets a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., which begins June 13.

For more informational on the super regional, visit http://riceowls.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/09-rice-ncaa-sr-central.html.


About admin