I am the Media Relations Intern for the Akron Aeros and on Tuesday, after dining at Swenson’s Drive-In with my boss Rob Sinclair, we heard back from Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh that there were a couple of changes in the roster. First of all, Matt McBride (.405, 6 HR, 36 RBI) was coming to town after absolutely tearing up the Carolina League, and secondly, newly minted reliever Ryan Edell (26 starts in 2008 with Akron) would come down from Columbus to make the spot-start in place of ace Hector Rondon.
Rondon, as reported by Scott earlier this week, was phenomenal in his first five starts with the Aeros going 5-0 with a 1.23 ERA. He led the Eastern League in wins, and was second in ERA leading up to his scheduled start on Tuesday. In the end, however, Edell made the start after the demotion, and Rondon made his first ever professional appearance out of the bullpen. The 21-year-old native of Venezuela is supposedly being moved to the pen in order to give him a faster route to the Major Leagues, as scouts are saying his fastball already has MLB potential. His first outing, however, did not go as everyone planned…
The Aeros lost Tuesday night, falling to 22-7 on the season yet maintaining the best record in baseball. Edell lasted just three innings as he was on a strict pitch count, and Rondon came into the ball game in the fourth inning with Akron up 1-0 over the Bowie Baysox. In his two innings of work, Rondon allowed season highs with six hits, three runs, and walked one while striking out a pair. He took the loss, and with the outing his ERA jumped up to 1.72 for the season. Sure there were errors by shortstop Carlos Rivero and first baseman Beau Mills that made two of his runs unearned, but in the end, Rondon took the loss and the first test of this switch to the bullpen did not turn out so well.
Take a look here at the starting pitchers and their ages that seem to be in the way of Rondon making it to the Indians in the starting rotation:
Cleveland: Cliff Lee (30), Jake Westbrook (31), Fausto Carmona (25), Anthony Reyes (27), Scott Lewis (25), Carl Pavano (33)
Columbus: Jeremy Sowers (25), David Huff (24), Tomo Okha (33)
Pavano is on a short-leash, while who knows how well Westbrook could do in 2010. David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA) should be with the parent club shortly, but besides him there are definitely a lot of question marks on down the line. Outside of Cleveland and Columbus, only Jeanmar Gomez (21), Josh Tomlin (24) and Chuck Lofgren (23) in Akron, and Kelvin de la Cruz (21) and Eric Berger (23) in Kinston are on the present Major-League radar.
So with the Indians taking a gamble with Rondon, look at the future of the rotation. Are there any can’t miss prospects coming up? Is there somebody who could dominate at the top of the rotation for many years to come? Along with maybe Carmona and Huff, what other guys do you think could be dominant in 2011 or 2012?
The answers to those questions are not apparent anymore, as Hector Rondon was the best starting pitching prospect in the organization, and at 21, still has a ton of potential for many productive Major League seasons. If he can recover shortly and turn things around in the bullpen, then things should be all right in the end for his future. Until then however, I will be scratching my head about possibly turning Rondon into a new Jason Davis.
Indians Prospect Insider: http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/2009/05/rondon-to-bullpen.html
Akron Beacon Journal: http://www.ohio.com/news/break_news/44847802.html