Mar 1, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge Rondon poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: Jorge Rondon.
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Jorge Rondon was recalled from AAA Albuquerque this week after Adam Ottavino was placed on the disabled list, and the pride of Calabozo, Venezuela made his Rockies debut Tuesday night in the blowout loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Rondon is a very hard-thrower, but has also faced bouts of wildness and surprisingly low strikeout rates relative to his velocity in the minor leagues, so he represents an intriguing and yet unknown relief option for the Rockies.
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
Rondon wasn’t initially projected to play in the big leagues by any system this season, and now that he’s made an appearance, only ZiPS believes he’s even worth an ongoing projection.
Interestingly, they project him to throw in 43 (!) games for the Rockies this summer, and actually do relatively well considering his lack of big league experience: an ERA and FIP both just over 4.00, and just 2.92 walks per nine innings, despite significantly higher rates throughout his minor league career.
Call to the Pen
To Rondon’s credit, and as I mentioned above, he does throw very, very hard, averaging a 96 mph fastball across his (granted, very brief) two inning big league career. Anybody who can throw that hard is theoretically an interesting bullpen option, and with an 86 mph slider to go along with his fastball, Rondon has tools to use if he can square them all away together.
He won’t close for the Rockies, but if he can get outs in middle relief and do enough to spell the rest of the bullpen for as long as he’s in Denver, that’ll go a long way for the Rockies’ pitching staff.
Losing command and/or getting hit hard would be a bad sign for Rondon, and we saw some of both in his inning of work against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. He allowed three runs on three hits and a walk, and sometimes missed the strike zone badly, though, hey, maybe chalk it up to nerves (it was only his second big league appearance after spending ten years in the minor leagues!).
You’ve got to admire anybody who goes through the adversity of ten minor league seasons just to get a shot (like Brooks Brown did!), and Rondon’s power arm is certainly intriguing if he can get it straightened away. I hope, for the bullpen’s sake, that he’s not up long (because we need Adam Ottavino back soon), but I’m not so sure Rondon won’t be here for at least a few weeks.
I unfortunately can’t see him playing too significant of a role with the club in his stay in Denver, and think he might even necessitate a move to bring up another reliever like Tommy Kahnle, Simon Castro, or Jairo Diaz if he throws poorly enough or loses command, which would make him a bad liability in a long relief/mop-up role.
Give us your predictions!