This was originally posted back on the 13th of August when rumors began circulating of Bruce Rondon’s name being tossed in the hat of players who could be brought up in September. In the end he was not called up but it was not a decision made lightly, a fact that was brought to light in the post post season comments (as in, in his interview about the direction of the Tigers held after the post season ended) Dave Dombrowski held a few weeks ago. In them he said that if they knew Jose Valverde would implode like he did they would have brought Rondon up so he could be utilized on the postseason roster (I mean duh, we all knew that the Hot Potato would blow up, seriously). Then he went on to say that Rondon will be in the mix to close this year, as in 2013, which takes place after the winter meetings, the new year, and the World Baseball Classic. Hooray!
Well, now that’s all over with and now that Craig Calcaterra over at Hardball Talk highlighted Danny Knobler’s tweet this afternoon regarding the Tigers interest (or non-interest in Rafael Soriano, more people than before are talking about Rondon. Like, who is this guy!
Oh, and here’s Knobler’s tweet:
Tigers are not interested in Soriano. Plan to stay in-house for closer, with hard-throwing 21-year-old Bruce Rondon getting chance at job.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 9, 2012
Also, hooray Tigers for not signing another overpriced former Rays reliever! (It’s okay, Benoit’s been good except for those ridiculous HR Allowed numbers last year).
Also, Rondon is really sweet and you should all be interested in him because he’s huge and throws a baseball really fast.
Anyway, I got carried away, here’s the original post which was posted back on August 13th.
That headline is deceptive, but thoughtful. I do this every once in a while. Some of you appreciate it because you take the time to read what I mean. Others, post comments like this:
commenter person: you’re use of the english language is complicated and hard to follow
First, I suppose I am hard to understand if a person can’t distinguish you’re and your and secondly, I really don’t use complicated language, I just like adjectives and verbs and shit. Sorry, this paragraph is literally pointless and I should have just titled this Bruce Rondon is a Professional Baseball Thrower and now I’m rambling so here’s the next paragraph.
In that headline I’m suggesting a few things. I’m suggesting that Bruce Rondon, the minor league stud-muffin reliever who started the year at High A Lakeland and is now finishing games in Triple A Toledo, could possibly be given an opportunity to pitch in South Detroit this year (Editor’s note, the fact that I use this year in this can now suggest the year in question being 2013). I’m also suggesting that he could disappoint if that first opportunity comes to fruition. Maybe I could have phrased the headline in a way that invokes positivity; such as – Bruce Rondon May Be Given a Chance to Dominate but I don’t like to make bold statements that a certain baseball player will dominate. Except for Justin Verlander. And Miguel Cabrera. And…well you get the point.
This isn’t to suggest that Rondon will struggle if and when he arrives in Detroit. This year he has finally learned to control that dominating fastball and it’s shown in his stats. In three minor league levels he has 20 walks in 47 innings. That’s a 3.8 BB/9 rate, which is a bit high for a starting pitcher but just fine for a reliever. He’s paired that walk rate with 60 strikeouts, or an 11.5 K/9 rate, which also translates to a nice shiny 3.1 K/BB ratio.
For those of you who wonder if he is ready, this is his fifth year in professional baseball. For those of you who think that’s a long time, he is just 21 years old. Experianced and Young! What a delightful combination! Anyay, Rondon is a good example of why you scout internationally and sign these long lanky flamethrowers when they’re 17 years old.
As you can see the 2012 season is a vast improvement over any other and his timeline is very easy to read:
In 2008, when he was 17, he was just trying his pro shoes on. You see it in the numbers. He had a low walk rate but also a low strikeout rate. He didn’t give up a lot of hits but his stuff was raw and obviously unpolished.
The next year, when he was 18, you can see he started to pull out that heater. He started to try to strike hitters out. He did that. But he also walked them, gave up hit and runs and probably had a lot of frustrating nights.He also pitch 15.1 innings. I’m not sure why. Could be because of an injury. Could be they shut him down for personal reasons. I don’t know. What I do know is that his age 18 year was probably pretty infuriating. But that’s where players develop. They learn from mistakes. They grow. They change. They evolve.
He threw 32 innings the next year and dominated rookie ball for almost 26 of them. His walk rate was still a bit high, but he had earned a promotion to High A ball. Remember, he was 19 that year, which was 2010.
2011 saw him play the entire year in Low A as the closer for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He saw excellent results, but his walk rate was still too high to consider a jump to Double A. That was last year. You didn’t hear about Bruce Rondon and his 13.7 K/9 rate as the Whitecaps closer because his 7.6 BB/9 rate was over twice the league average. He had the stuff, he just didn’t know where it was going, which is generally the case with flame-throwing youngsters.
Then 2012 arrived.
Kevin Goldstein wrote a paragraph about Rondon in this weekly ten-pack during the season:
Rondon started the year at High-A Lakeland, but he’s suddenly on the verge of the majors as his ability to harness his triple-digit heat by throwing strikes has been one of the biggest pleasant surprises in the system this year. Moved to Toledo early in the week, Rondon has thrown a pair of scoreless innings so far, although his outing on Saturday ended after one pitch that the umpire ruled was an intended message. The Tigers have struggled to live up to expectations this year, and part of those struggles have been an inconsistent bullpen; Rondon’s surprising leap through the system could have one more step in it.
And that’s where Rondon sits now. On the threshold of a major league call up. If he isn’t brought up in the next two weeks, you can probably bet money he will be up in September when the rosters expand.
When he does arrive, expect some strikeouts. But expect some walks too. Expect success. Expect failure.
Bruce Rondon has a ways to go before he’s a Detroit Tiger. Only now he has less to go than ever before.