Hector Rondon, Human Caution Sign

As Bastian tweeted (and Adam fanshotted), Hector Rondon has a fractured elbow, the same one on which Tommy John surgery was performed in 2010. I have no idea what the nature of this injury is, or if the two injuries are conceivably related but regardless of how he fractured his elbow Rondon will not pitch full-time in the high minors again until, optimistically, late summer, 2012. Even if his health issues are all resolved at that point, the odds against Rondon ever playing at a high level again have to be incredibly long—he was considered a pitcher who needed time to work on secondary offerings and two years away from the game can't be good for his development.

At his peak, Rondon was one of the top prospects in the Indians system, and Adam wrote about him often. The RHP out of Venezuela featured a mid-90's fastball and dominated AA at 21, impressing the scouting-types: BA, Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein. In his 2009 wrap-up of the Indians system, Goldstein tagged Rondon as a potential three-starter with room for more, and the BP annual was similarly optimistic:

...Rondon can touch 95 mph with his fastball, but walked more than two batters just once in 27 appearances in 2009...Although he's immediately in contention for a starting spot in the rotation come 2010—it's a pulse-optional battle royale—the likely scenario is that he'll be back at Columbus to work on his secondary offerings. Since he's so often around the plate, he needs better breaking stuff to change batter's eye levels...

Hector was began 2010 in AAA and immediately went all to pieces, suddenly exhibiting a totally untenable HR rate, despite never having had any issues with the long ball previously in his career. Rondon's career is a pretty clear inverted parabola—he marched up one side of the mountain and then, mirror image, fell right off the other.

Year Age Tm Lev ERA G GS GF CG IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2006 18 Indians Rk 5.13 11 11 0 0 52.2 62 34 30 6 3 32 8 10.6 1.0 0.5 5.5 10.67
2007 19 Lake County A 4.37 27 27 0 0 136.0 143 78 66 13 27 113 11 9.5 0.9 1.8 7.5 4.19
2008 20 Kinston A+ 3.60 27 27 0 0 145.0 130 63 58 12 42 145 10 8.1 0.7 2.6 9.0 3.45
2009 21 2 Teams AAA-AA 3.38 27 25 0 1 146.1 143 61 55 11 29 137 7 8.8 0.7 1.8 8.4 4.72
2009 21 Akron AA 2.75 15 13 0 1 72.0 60 23 22 3 16 73 3 7.5 0.4 2.0 9.1 4.56
2009 21 Columbus AAA 4.00 12 12 0 0 74.1 83 38 33 8 13 64 4 10.0 1.0 1.6 7.7 4.92
2010 22 Columbus AAA 8.53 7 7 0 0 31.2 48 32 30 12 10 33 2 13.6 3.4 2.8 9.4 3.30
2011 23 Mahoning Valley A- 3.00 2 2 0 0 3.0 3 1 1 0 0 2 0 9.0 0.0 0.0 6.0
6 Seasons 4.20 101 99 0 1 514.2 529 269 240 54 111 462 38 9.3 0.9 1.9 8.1 4.16
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 5.35 19 19 0 0 106.0 131 70 63 20 23 97 6 11.1 1.7 2.0 8.2 4.22
A (1 season) A 4.37 27 27 0 0 136.0 143 78 66 13 27 113 11 9.5 0.9 1.8 7.5 4.19
AA (1 season) AA 2.75 15 13 0 1 72.0 60 23 22 3 16 73 3 7.5 0.4 2.0 9.1 4.56
Rk (1 season) Rk 5.13 11 11 0 0 52.2 62 34 30 6 3 32 8 10.6 1.0 0.5 5.5 10.67
A- (1 season) A- 3.00 2 2 0 0 3.0 3 1 1 0 0 2 0 9.0 0.0 0.0 6.0
A+ (1 season) A+ 3.60 27 27 0 0 145.0 130 63 58 12 42 145 10 8.1 0.7 2.6 9.0 3.45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2011.

There was a lot to like in Rondon and when Tommy John ended his 2010 season there was an inevitable impulse to explain his poor AAA performance with his injury. As the mantra goes, though, injury isn't a positive indicator. As recently as June, Adam was reminding us to not forget Hector but, at this point, that might be the prudent course of action. At the same time, Rondon is still just entering his age 24 season, meaning he could come to 2013 Spring Training as a 25 year old with a decent fastball and some history of success.

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