The Rule V draft affected the Cubs likely more than any other team in baseball this year. Theo & Co. lost Starling Peralta in the major league portion, and Michael Burgess/Matt Cerda/Alvy Jimenez in the minor league portion.
However, it wasn’t all bad for the Cubs, as they landed a flamethrower in Hector Rondon. Will he stick? I think the chance is very good that he does.
Rondon was plucked out Venezuela by the Indians organization in 2006, and Hector had worked his way through the system relatively quickly for an 18-year old. He skipped A- and worked all the way up to AAA as a 21-year old, grabbing 11 starts of 4.00 ERA ball for Columbus in 2009. His line that year was very decent: 4.92 SO/BB with a 1.291 WHIP. If that was the whole story, Rondon would very likely be a starter for the Indians by now; unfortunately, that’s where Rondon’s injuries start. He had TJS in 2010, and then fractured the same elbow after recovering in 2011. Rondon hasn’t really pitched in the minors since, only getting 7 innings of work at the tail end of 2012. Scouts have liked what they’ve seen so far in the Venezuelan League so far, but injuries will dictate whether or not he has a future.
Rondon works in the low 90s with a fastball that occasionally touches 96. He has a decent changeup as well, as well as a poor slider that won’t play in the majors at this point. The lack of a breaking pitch pretty much forces him into a bullpen role, which is where he’ll play for the Cubs
Rondon has consistenly shown very good control in the minor leagues, carrying a 1.9 BB/9 with an 8.1 K/9. The fastball can get hitters to swing and miss, and he can put the ball (generally) where he wants to. He could thrive in a true fireman role eventually but will probably see mopup/MR duties for the Cubs in 2012.
The way the Rule V draft works, the Cubs will need to keep Rondon either on the Major League roster or on the DL (only for a certain amount of time) for the whole season. His injuries will dictate whether that’s possible. If it is, the chance that Rondon sticks is very high. The Cubs could use a power pen arm that has legitimate #3 upside (if he develops a slider), and if the cost if essentially free, Theo & Co won’t pass that up.