After a horrific and monumental collapse in personal performance, during the 2012 Major League Baseball postseason, Jose Valverde, the once-lauded closer, now finds himself without a home and on the free-agent market. The Tigers had hoped a stint on the bench following his lackluster performances against Oakland and New York would help the struggling "Big Potato" turn things around. However, it was not to be the case.
In the same October 30 statement in which general manager Dave Dombrowski announced the parting of ways with Valverde, he gave some insight into who may be next to take the Tigers' role as closer. With several names currently possible, it was surprising to many that the name he tossed about more freely was that of young, minor league prospect, Bruce Rondon.
The Tigers' 2012 Organizational Player of the Year, Rondon boasts a nasty fastball that reached upwards of 103+ mph. At that speed, even a one-pitch hurler can excel in a major league bullpen. Rondon, however, is not just another Joel Zumaya-esque one-trick pony.
Rondon possesses two vital attributes that may lend him credibility in garnering the big league role in 2013. To start, he has an above average arsenal of breaking pitches that, when "on," rival those of many major league starting pitchers. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he has something current roster veterans Al Albuquerque and Octavio Dotel do not - closing experience.
In the past three seasons, Rondon has 65 saves and has impressed many in the organization with the added fact that he "thinks" like a closer. In a farm system that currently lacks in closer and shortstop depth, having a potential future star at the closing position is something Detroit not only relishes, but is relying upon for next season's success. Whether he emerges from Spring Training the clear-cut winner, or remains an active bullpen-arm-in-waiting, he will, no doubt, continue to learn from some of the game's best and most experienced hurlers, such as Dotel, until his time finally comes. Judging by Dombrowski's praise and comments, that time may be sooner than many once believed.
Should Rondon make it through camp and elicit enough of an impression on his teammates and front-office staff to make the grade, his learning curve will be short, as Detroit figures to be a major player in the quest for the 2013 World Series. In that case, Rondon will have little room for error.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
- Sports & Recreation
- Dave Dombrowski
- Jose Valverde
- Major League Baseball