Cubs select RHP Hector Rondon in Rule 5 Draft, lose Starling Peralta

I'm glad this front office still has the ability to surprise.  Josh Fields went off the board first pick and the Cubs went with former Cleveland #7 prospect, 24 year old,  Hector Rondon.

Rondon made it as far as AAA in 2010 but has had some injuries since and has pitched just 10 innings.  He had TJ surgery following that season, then fractured his elbow in rehab, but appears to be healthy now.  He had been throwing extremely well in Arizona late last season and in Venezuela, touching 98 mph.    Rondon had received an invite to Indians spring training as well, so he was a guy they had still had hopes for as soon as this season.  That potential to be MLB ready -- and useful -- was probably a key factor when choosing him over someone like Braulio Lara.

Ben Badler of Baseball America likes the pick, saying the Astros, Cubs, and Marlins did well today.  He also had this to say about Rondon via Twitter.

Rondon hasn't stayed healthy the last three years, but talked to scouts who saw him throwing hard in Venezuela. Not surprised he went high.

Before the injury, Rondon had a plus fastball that he threw at 96 mph and, just as importantly, he's athletic and repeats his delivery well, helping him pitch with good command.  Rondon also showed an above average change-up.  His slider needs work but Rondon is more than just a RP prospect.  When healthy he projected as a mid-rotation prospect.

Jed Hoyer gave his thoughts,

“If you go back and look, he was a really good prospect,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We’ve been watching him in Venezuela this winter. He’s been throwing the ball really well. He’s got a great arm.

“We felt we could capitalize on the fact that he’s healthy now and throwing really well. Hopefully he can re-capture what made him a . . .  top prospect.”

Now for the bad news... The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Starling Peralta.  The Cubs took a calculated risk leaving Peralta exposed because he had only pitched in low A ball.  The Diamondbacks will have to carry him all season, not an easy feat consider they expect to contend.

Peralta showed a 96 mph fastball as a starter and flashed an occasional plus slider.  A scout I spoke with told me he saw him as a reliever down the road, and he'll get an early start on that this spring.  We'll follow him and see if he sticks.  The Cubs would obviously like to have him back.

In the minor league phase of the draft, the Cubs lost OF Michael Burgess.  Burgess is a former 3 outcome player who had to sell out for power, but seemed to try and round out his game a bit more in AA last year.  He was not a top 30 prospect with the Cubs and probably not a top 50 guy, but there is some talent there.

The Cubs also lost Matthew Cerda, a utility infielder prospect with tremendous plate discipline but a questionable bat and glove.

They also lost Alvido Jimenez from their AZ Rookie League team.  Jimenez put up some solid numbers but is 21 and has yet to make it out of the complex leagues.

Filed under: Rule 5 Draft


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  • Don't know how AZ is going to carry Peralta all year... hate to lose him as I love his upside, but they are supposed be in the mix in the NL West and this seems silly of them.....

    Rondon, somehow - must have convinced the Cubs he is finally healthy after 2 elbow surgeries... If he is, he may be able to contribute out of the pen this year and possibly stretch him out for SP consideration in 2014.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Was shocked that someone picked Peralta but tough to carry.

  • rondon is intriguing and it will probably do him some good to spend a year in the pen and rest his arm, so im excited about the pick, but losing peralta really sucks. i hope that t/j try and buy him back from arizona because we cant afford to lose any of our pitching prospects.

    also the cubs just lost burgess to the astros in the AAA portion of the draft.

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    I said this last year when the Cubs were pulling the Lendy Castillo shenanigans, so I'm consistent: MLB really needs to change the way Rule 5 works. The guy getting hurt the worst here isn't Theo Epstein, but Starling Peralta, who is going to lose and entire year of development so the Diamondbacks can keep him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Poor sap. Gets to work with a big league pitching coach, gets MLB minimum if he makes it, gets big league meal money, and adds to his pension. Why doesn't anyone ever mention that when talking about the poor, abused Rule 5 guys?

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    In reply to tim815:

    Because he could have all that and more if he makes it as a big league pitcher. And taking away the ability to pitch every five days and work on his stuff in game situations for an entire year makes that much more unlikely.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Speculation. He's a 50/50 if the Cubs keep him. He's a 100 percent if Arizona keeps him. Which they probably won't to anyway.

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    In reply to tim815:

    What's speculation?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That being in Arizona throwing 40 innings kills his shot at being a good pitcher.

    If he doesn't return (like David Patton), it's more likely that he just wasn't good enough. Not that he made big league meal money for a season.

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    In reply to tim815:

    I did not say kill -- I said it hurts it. That seems beyond question. If simply working with a major league coach was just as effective as minor league experience, the major league clubs would save money by setting up an NFL-style practice squad.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, I guess I won't like it so much if they do it with Peralta. The kid has been healthy.

  • Crap, they're raping our minor league rosters now.....

  • Cardinals take 2nd baseman Matt Cerda off cubs AA roster

    Thats 3 players lost so far...

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    On to Major League caliber players. Supposedly Grilli is going to make his decision by 10 a.m. or earlier today.

  • Toronto takes AA pitcher Alvido Jimenez from Cubs

    Thats #4

  • Lara didn't go until pick #6 of the 2nd round to the Marlins....

  • This is a fabulous pickup by the Cubs. Rondon is long and lean, is a great athlete. He is fully healthy now. He was throwing 98 mph last August in the Arizona rookie league, the Indians were stunned. And he has good control. Tremendous upside. He would be a first or second round pick if he went throught the amateur draft now.
    He has been pitching for Caracas this winter out of the pen, had eight straight scoreless appearances through November.

  • If he's healthy it's a potential steal.

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    So I'm assuming that the Cubs will use him as long relief and a spot starter if needed?

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Strictly in relief for 2013. Could change in 2014.

  • John, other than Peralta, I assume that the minor leaguers we are losing are not more than organizational filler guys for the teams who grabbed them. Any exceptions you see?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Org filler. At best they're reserves if they make it, but even that's a long shot.

  • John
    With all these Tommy John pitchers that the Cubs have in their organization, do you know if someone in the medical staff or in the scouting department has expertise evaluating &/or dealing with the recovery process? Seems like we lead the league in TJ surgeries. :)

    Just for kicks, I looked up Dr Frank Jobe & turns out he is actually a Dodgers consultant. Doh!

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Yes. The Cubs put tremendous emphasis on their medical staff. It's where they are looking to gain an edge. Seems they like what they saw in Rondon. If they're right, it's a steal.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I really do like that pick. He could conceivably be a big help in the bullpen this year and possibly even push for a rotation slot if they dump everyone at mid-season.

  • Love the pick. Since the he's been as high as AAA, he must have shown an advanced command in the past. That is usually what kills pitchers when they first come up and why many of the A and AA guys will struggle.

  • In reply to jimmy mac1:

    Command and MLB readiness were definitely the key factors in selecting Rondon over a guy like Lara or Dominguez.

    Looking at it now the Cubs probably had Fields and Rondon as their top 2 for those reasons.

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    I wonder how Jed and Theo are feeling at the moment. They have to be more than a little depressed. It's easy to point the finger at the Gerardo Concepcion signing but, in fairness, I can't see the any scenario in which they decide to protect Peralta.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's surprising that he was taken. I'm not sure they would have protected him anyway because of that. Roster spots are important this time of year and hard to protect a low A guy.

  • The Cubs gambled and lost on Peralta.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    So far. Maybe they get him back. AZ a team that expects to contend. Hard to keep a Class A pitcher on your roster all year even if you're not in a race. He's going to have to wow the D'Backs to have a chance.

  • Rondon is a starter. That is his long term upside. In A ball he pitched the first six innings of two no hitters. He was one of the Indians top prospects, in the 08 Futures Game, he pitched a scoreless inning in the shutout of the US team, playing alongside guys like Andrus and Sandoval.
    At 21, he was dominate in AA ball, one of the best starters in the Eastern League that season. Moved up to AAA and did not dissapoint. Averaged a strikeout an inning early in his career.
    That is when he hurt his elbow.
    Let's hope the Cubs can find some success with another young Venezuelan right hander.

  • Thanks for the input CubbieRon! I hope that he can return to starting after the injuries. I know the Cubs will be cautious and keep him in relief for now, but the fact that he has two above average pitches and a chance for an average 3rd pitch --- not to mention good command, gives him a shot to start. Wouldn't be surprised to see Cubs stretch him out next year.

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    Looks like the Yankees are telling teams that Granderson, Hughes and Nova could be available for trades.

  • Yankees are a mess!

  • In reply to 44slug:

    They are getting old. Cashman sees the writing on the wall with this team. In two years from now, they could be at the bottom of their division. Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays have all advance in the A.L. East

  • Youkilis gets a $12 million one year offer from the Yankees.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Thanks. Latest rumor thread up, CubsTalk. So feel free to add stuff there in the comments section.

  • Cerda was a guy I personally liked a couple of off-seasons ago, but utility men with only one of the six tools (plate discipline) are rather easy to come by.

    I also see ex-Cub prospect Marquez Smith got picked in the AAA phase. Thought the dude had a chance as a big league backup, but hasn't done much to get those hopes going again since a nice 2010 season. Dude was in indy ball for part of 2012.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Smith had his share of fans but never showed enough of a hit tool. Just enough to keep him moving up the ladder but not enough to project well to MLB.

  • How high did Peralta sit on the Cubs top prospect list. On most, he didn't make the top 20, and on some, not even the top 30.

    When was the last time that a Cub prospect that couldn't make the top 20 got drafted? That says a lot about the system that the new administration is building.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    Just tried to post this, and it didn't show up. Apologies if this ends up being a double post.

    He was probably a top 30 guy. John Sickels gave him some love recently. He has a live arm, but is very raw.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'd say he was in the 25-30 range. Really does speak to the Cubs depth.

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    I wonder if there is any chance they send him back to CLE in a deal for somebody else. You guys have always said the Cubs/Indians match up well as trade partners. maybe the Winter Meetings changed that. I like Rondon - hope they keep him.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    That's a possibility though unlikely. Cleveland didn't want to lose him, we know that.

  • I see it like this, if Arizona cannot keep Peralta on their roster, they can have him sit on the DL like the Cubs did to Castillo last season, or make some type of trade with the Cubs by the end of Spring Training to keep him.

    Cubs lost four players, which shows we are deep. What other team lost four players or more in the draft?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    They would have to run him through waivers if they don't keep him on the 25 man roster. If he runs through waivers, the Cubs would have little reason to make a trade to let Zona keep him.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    MLB reportedly sent out a memo that they'll be double-checking Rule 5 guys being placed on the DL so teams don't just use it to stash a guy who isn't ready.

    So, there's a good chance Peralta's back in the Cubs system no later than May. I don't ask much out of a mop-up guy, but I don't even think he's got that level of skill quite yet.

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    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    The Cubs are covered with Rondon. With his injury history they can easily DL him without suspicion.

  • I still feel like if MLB thinks it's BS, they'll look into it. More an issue for teams taking guys like Starling Peralta than Rondon.

  • A draftee still has to be on the active list for 90 of the first 150 days. That is still a tough thing for a contender to deal with, unless the kid is producing at least a little.

    John - has anyone ever done a study on how many rule v draftees are returned, and how many make it through the year?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'm sure there has but I'd have to find it. Most guys are returned Last year was kind of unusual in that more than half of them were kept.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It is a more valueable vehicle since the new amature draft rules.

  • After Fujikawa, Schierholtz, & Rodon the 40 man is at 40, right?

    Cubs are still looking to acquire a 5th OF, 3B/Util, and possibly a reliever? Who is likely to get bumped from the 40 if they sign someone?

  • I hope we get Peralta back. That said, I'm concerned that the depth of Arizona's pen might allow them to hide a guy.

    I like Rondon. It's a nice addition, but at his age, with his injury history, with the lack of development on an average changeup and below-average slider ... it's hard to imagine him making it as the mid-rotation starter that was once hoped for. I hope I'm wrong. That said, Rondon might be someone they can groom as their closer of the future, if they use him in pen this year. Granted, we've got a lot of righty power pen arms in the upper levels, so a lot of guys could be in that mix.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I think he's a reliever for now. He'd have to improve his secondaries and give the Cubs confidence that he can hold up for them to try to pull a Samardzija or Cabrera. If he doesn't, it's still a nice potential back of the bullpen arm.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I fully acknowledge he may end up in the pen (and getting Rule 5'd may increase that probability ... say he sticks in the D-backs pen ... they might be tempted to keep him there), but considering his age, plus fastball, and a slider that has flashed plus (really better than Samardzija or Cabrera's secondaries at a similar stage), it's a fascinating combination when combined with his frame, and if he can develop a change and get increased consistency on his breaking ball, that's a potential 2/3 starter.

  • Where does this leave the 25 man roster?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Not much wiggle room right now. Would have to open up spots with trades at this point.

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    John, did the Cubs pick anyone in the minor league part of the draft?

  • In reply to Just Win:

    No, they passed. I think that's a good thing. Shows how much better system is when they like their own guys better.

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    I really like this Rondon pick. His career K/BB ratio is 4.17. That's insane. His career numbers across the board are pretty good too. And he has lots of experience above A ball, unlike most Rule 5 guys.

    It sounds like they have the potential to hit the lottery with this guy if he stays healthy. Great upside for him. Unlike David Patton, who looked like his max potential was being an average to below average RP. (who is now out of baseball, if I'm correct)

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Agreed. If he's healthy, it's a steal. Great under the radar pick. Had heard his name and that he was picking up momentum but I didn't think Cubs would pick him. Considering how they like to take chances on players returning from injury, that was a mistake on my part.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    You are right in that the key with Rondon is that he pitched a full year + at AAA, and is 25.........if he doesnt' make it now, he probably won't make it.

    Peralta is a whole different story; so raw, he's 22, and coming out of low-A ball. Not sure how D-Backs can keep him.

  • Nice, I like this pick. He had three impressive years of 130+ innings when healthy back in 2007-2009. WHIP: 1.250, 1.186, 1.175, respectively. BB/9: 1.8, 2.6, 1.8.

    Did we pick anybody in the minor league phases, or did we just get picked on?

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