The next hard-throwing right-handed Tigers reliever has made great strides this season and isn't far from Detroit.
Bruce Rondon entered professional baseball in 2008 as a member of the Detroit Tigers’ Venezuelan Summer League club. At the time, he was just another kid, a 17-year-old with a fastball that sat in the high 80s and low 90s and a fringy slider. He struggled to command his pitches and, as a result, spent all of 2008 and most of 2009 in the VSL. In 2010, his velocity ticked up and his slider became an average offering, helping him build some steam as a prospect. By 2011, Rondon had a fastball that consistently received grades of 75 and 80 from scouts.
Not surprisingly, scouts and player development officials really like Rondon. While some envision him as a future closer waiting for the right opportunity, others liken him to a former Tigers flamethrower who excelled in a setup role. “He’s pretty similar to a guy they had a few years ago, Joel Zumaya,” one scout opined. Rondon is a classic fastball/slider pitcher, but his ability to harness triple-digit velocity makes him stand out. “The stuff is all there,” the scout added. “He just needs to show better command.”
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Debuting the new-look OTB with scouts' views of the 10 best remaining free agents.
Though the Los Angeles Angels and Miami Marlins have tried their best, the free agent market is not picked clean yet. In fact, one of the prizes of this winter's class remains on the market in first baseman Prince Fielder, or as his agent Scott Boras has taken to calling him, "The PF Flyer."
Teams tend to overvalue their own prospects, but that shouldn't keep some of these guys from the trade block.
The final week before the trade deadline was a snoozefest until Wednesday morning, when the Giants and Mets conditionally agreed to a deal that would send Carlos Beltran to the Bay, while the Cardinals, White Sox, and Blue Jays consummated a complicated 11-player exchange in which Colby Rasmus moved to Toronto and Edwin Jackson to St. Louis. Finally some prospects were dealt, but the way teams are more interested than ever in holding onto their own players might be the cause of the big trade holdup in the first place. In Buster Olney’s recent article on ESPN.com, an executive told him, “I think teams increasingly value (or over-value) their prospects. In general, most GMs would rather make financial errors than errors involving prospects.”
Several well-respected baseball men reflect on what it takes to be a scout.
Scouting is both an art and an inexact science, and it is important to remember that it is also a vocation. It could even be called a lifestyle. The life of a scout isn’t an easy one—you put a lot of miles on your car and the paychecks aren’t very big—but it is a job that many love. There are successes and failures, and no shortage of good stories, but above all the game wouldn’t survive without the men who do the job. In an era of statistical analysis and sabermetric evaluation, scouting remains the heart and soul of baseball.
Some expert opinions on various prospects, including Mike Stanton and Starlin Castro.
With the 2010 minor-league season now a month in, I spent this week talking to a myriad of scouts about their first four weeks of coverage. As fun as it is to talk about the big names, the real enjoyment in generated by the surprises, as players seen as mid-range prospects take a step forward, and even the occasional player one has barely heard of generates big interest. Here's part one of the best of those conversations, focusing on some of the bigger-name prospects. In Friday's report, we'll delve a little to find some surprising names that are brightening their blip on the prospect radar.
A few additional observations as camps close up in Florida.
Some more thoughts from scouts as camps wrap up in Florida...
While power right-hander Wade Davis has been designated the fifth starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, he's been highly inconsistent this spring, allowing 31 hits over 21 1/3 innings with a 7.17 ERA. One scout who has been on the Rays all spring projects the same kind of on-and-off struggles to continue once the games count.
Alvarez, Drabek among the prospects turning heads in Florida.
With camps wrapping up as teams prepare for their cash-grab exhibition games, it has been a good week to catch up with scouts about what they've seen over the past six weeks. Here are some of the best revelations from the Grapefruit League.
Sneak peeks at some of the spring training standouts and stand-downs.
While spring training is always a relaxing and fun time, yet one where you still get worked up over the upcoming season, it's an even more intense time for pro scouts, who often spend a month or more away from home camped out at a ballpark every day bearing down for the first time of the year. The settings in Arizona and Florida give them an opportunity to take a look at entire organizations in one place, and to establish the building blocks they'll need for their reports throughout the year. I was able to talk to a number of scouts as they wrapped up their initial work, and here's what they're saying about some of the top prospects in the game (as well as a struggling veteran), beginning today with the camps in Florida.