BLUF: Truly elite raw stuff with dominating closer potential.
The Player: Bruce Rondon (RHP, Detroit Tigers) – Signed out of Venezuela in 2007, started 13 games for the VSL Tigers in 2008, posting a 3.58 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. Promoted to the GCL in 2009, but was sent back to Venezuela after just three starts for disciplinary reasons. Notched 15 saves and a 0.70 ERA in 24 games for the GCL Tigers in 2010. Allowed just 11 hits in 25.2 innings with 14 walks and 26 strikeouts. Promoted to the Midwest League in 2011 and posted 19 saves in 41 appearances, finishing with a 2.02 ERA, 22 hits and 34 walks in 40 innings with 61 strikeouts. Started the 2012 season in the Florida State League, posting a 1.93 ERA and 13.1 strikeout per nine inning rate before his promotion. In 21 games with Double-A Erie, had a 0.83 ERA with 15 hits allowed and nine walks in 21.2 innings with 23 punch outs.
Basis of Report: Game Reports – Personal Observation (FIL 2010, Eastern League – August 2012)
Body (6-2, 240): Enormous. Standard listed weight of 190 pounds very light. Broad shoulders. Thick, barrel chest. Muscular guy, particularly throughout arms and legs. Has excess weight but has conditioned better over last year. Flat out huge guy. Intimidating physicality.
Delivery/Mechanics: Filled with effort. Works from a low-3/4 slot and will flash both lower and higher slots as a different look. Can get a little lazy with mechanics and lose control of body. Hurdles himself toward plate and falls off to 1B side. Has durable body that should allow him to work through effort in mechanics. Effort provides deception.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): Doesn’t work from wind-up.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 101, Low 96, Average 97-99, Grade – 80/80
Fastball (FB) Movement: Natural explosive life in zone. Ball jumps at hitter. Tremendous arm-side movement that darts away from LHH hitter and can get back in on RHH. Devastating movement. Grade – 70/70
Overall Fastball: Absolutely elite pitch. Elite velocity plays even tougher with plus-plus movement, including arm-side run. Dominating pitch that can be unhittable when thrown for strikes. Grade – 80/80
Slider (SL): Thrown 87-88 consistently. Will overthrow at 89-90 at times, losing movement. At lower velo, shows hard two-plane break that moves a ton. Lacks control of pitch. Only knows how to throw as chase pitch and will need to learn to throw closer to strike zone. Potential above-average to plus pitch with more consistent feel. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Consistently 89-90. Has arm-side fade similar to FB. Great arm speed and deception. Showed several plus CH in recent outings. Swing-and-miss pitch. Grade – 50/60
Control: Still very wild. Will throw several pitches not even close to the zone, then suddenly pounds the middle of the strike zone. Effort in delivery hinders strike throwing. Tries to overthrow at times and loses the ball up and to the arm side. Likely below-average control long term, given mechanics and lack of desire to improve strike throwing ability. Grade – 30/40
Command: No command. Shows no ability or feel for locating any of his pitches. Did flash some ability to elevate when he wanted. Very little command projection. Grade – 20/30
Summation: Massive raw stuff. Elite FB right now and potential for two plus secondary pitches. Has almost no command and control profile, but doesn’t need much with overpowering arsenal and emergence of a very reliable CH. Poor makeup. Lacks drive and desire. Frequently characterized as lazy. Lacks effort on the field and carries off-putting emotion on his sleeve. Speaks very little English, leading to significant communication barriers. Overall, elite closer potential with triple-digit heat and secondary pitches that can make hitters look silly.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Despite his lack of control and command, raw stuff and durable body mitigate a lot of risk.
Future: Has breezed through two levels already this year and was just promoted to Triple-A by the Tigers. If the 40-man roster has room, he could see the big leagues for a cameo this fall. Will have an excellent chance at breaking cap with the Tigers in 2013 and could be in line to take over the closer role in 2014.