Angel Rondon is pretty darn good

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    AvatarBob Reed


    As most folks here know, minor league Redbird righty Angel Rondon is having something of a breakthrough season in 2019. Mind you, all he’s ever done in his four years as a professional pitcher is succeed. But before this year he never truly dominated. And he doesn’t throw a million miles an hour (just 90-93 when I saw him last year, and a couple at 94). And he wasn’t a big bonus baby, and he’s been merely age appropriate for his leagues rather than young.

    Thus, in spite of consistent conspicuous success he’s been largely if not entirely overlooked — and I mean overlooked everywhere, including here and including by yours truly. (It must also be said that his inning totals have been pretty modest, so durability was and still is a question. It’s a reasonable source of caution.)

    But again, he’s always gotten people out. At age 18 in 2016 he posted an ERA of 2.79 in the Dominican Summer League. The next year it was 2.64 in the Gulf Coast League. Then last year he seamlessly transitioned to full season baseball with a 2.90 ERA for Peoria.

    Which brings us to this season. Angel began the year in Palm Beach and for the first time he downright throttled the opposition, holding hitters to a .165 batting average and logging a 2.20 ERA accompanied by his usual strikeout-per-inning. And that quite rightly got him a prompt promotion to Double-A Springfield, the biggest bump in difficulty for any Cardinal minor league pitcher.

    Now, Springfield isn’t a hitter’s haven by any stretch, and the Texas League as a whole is not nearly as welcoming to batters as it was, say, 20 or 25 years ago. But compared to taking the bump at Roger Dean Stadium — pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s league, and lesser hitters than Double-A as well — Springfield represents a tremendous challenge for a hurler.

    And at the relatively tender age of 21 the wildly underpublicized Angel Rondon is passing the Springfield test with distinction. But please gentle reader, don’t take my word. Instead let’s do a systematic objective evaluation of his AA pitching performance relative to some recognizable Redbird prospects of the past.

    What I’ve done is rank some notable twirlers — exclusively by their respective Double-A performances — in six categories. I then combined the six rankings to reach a final overall tally. These categories are (1)age, (2)strikeouts per nine innings, (3)home run rate, (4)earned run average, (5)K/BB ratio, and (6)number of starts in full season ball before being promoted to Double-A. I wanted the eccentric latter category in there because Rondon has in my opinion been rather rushed to his current level of competition, and I feel this should be reflected in his score.

    So I took not just Angel Rondon, but also Genesis Cabrera from our current system and compared their Double-A performances to those of seven highly regarded past prospects: Shelby Miller, Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Sandy Alcantara, and Adam Wainwright. Each of those seven was ranked in the national top 100 lists following their AA seasons; all but one in the top 50 in fact. In short, an exceedingly elite list. (For the seven, the average post-AA ranking was roughly 35th among all prospects.)

    So there’s nine guys all told, ranked 1-9 in each of six categories that encompass both outcomes and underlying peripherals, and with a bonus so to speak for both youthfulness and having been hurried to that level of competition. But before we see how Angel Rondon measures up, for demonstration purposes here’s how former super-prospect Shelby Miller shook out.

    1st in age
    1st in HR/9
    2nd in ERA
    3rd in K/9
    4th in K/BB
    7th in number of starts before reaching AA

    So if we add up Shelby’s rankings we get a total of 18. Subtract that 18 from 106, and you get a final total of 88. (I used 106 of course so that a theoretical perfect score could be 100, since a ranking of 1 in each category…well you get the point.) And as you probably guessed, Shelby Miller in fact has the highest score. Here are all of them.

    Shelby Miller 88
    Alex Reyes 86
    Jack Flaherty 83
    Angel Rondon 79
    Carlos Martinez 76
    Trevor Rosenthal 74
    Adam Wainwright 69
    Genesis Cabrera 69
    Sandy Alcantara 61

    And you wanna know something wild? Those point system rankings above reflect pretty much precisely how those pitchers were perceived by the national prospect rankers following their Double-A seasons. I mean it’s almost uncanny. Per the national pundits, Miller and Reyes were easily the two highest ranked (5th and 7th), while Waino, Cabrera, and Alcantara were the three lowest rated (49th, unranked, and 70th, respectively). And the three non-Rondons in the middle were ranked almost identically to one another, at 33rd for Martinez, 38th for Jack Flaherty, and 39th for Rosie.

    And there’s Angel Rondon, humble Angel Rondon, comfortably ensconced among those elites. The mean and median scores are both 76 points, and he’s a bit better than that at 79. A bit better than Carlos Martinez. Better than Trevor Rosenthal. And well above Adam Wainwright, et. al. So color me impressed. More than I thought I would be, before beginning this long-winded exercise.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for a moment that Rondon is a top 50 prospect, or even top 100. But to me he’s unquestionably a top 150-200 right now. And if he finishes the year as healthy & effective as he’s been so far for Springfield, I think he should at least receive some top 100 consideration. Because he’s maybe two ticks on the fastball away from #2/3 starter type stuff. And what he has right now could eventually work just fine as a #4 type, in my opinion.



    I like your keeping an eye on Angel Randon. Sounds like hes got a whole lot of talent. Moving him quickly to progress sounds like someonelse also has thier eye on him too. Have always thought that the Cardinals minor league system has always been our stregnth. Theres alot of exCardinals in MLB on all the teams.Hope to see Angel out there soon. Go Cardinals!

    Brian WaltonBrian Walton

    Paid - Annual

    Bob Reed writes:

    Thus, in spite of consistent conspicuous success he’s been largely if not entirely overlooked — and I mean overlooked everywhere, including here and including by yours truly.

    Rondon is currently our no. 22 Cardinals prospect, ahead of Griffin Roberts, Evan Kruczynski and Alvaro Seijas, among many other pitchers in the system.


    Paid - Annual

    What do Rondon, Albert Pujols and our own Bobby Reed all have in common? They are all Angels. A truly heavenly post, Bobby!


    Paid - Annual

    It would be nice to see the Cards develop another solid pitcher. A #4 might not sound like a lot but in today’s day and age it’s nothing to sneeze at.


    Paid - Annual

    I’ve mentioned Rondon on here several times. He dominated at Palm Beach and has been probably the most consistent starter in the system. His promotion to Springfield has seen him stay very competitive and he won’t be 22 until December. I have been watching this guy all season.

    The TCN has also been keeping an eye on Rondon he has advanced from #35 in April and id presently #22. Birds on the Black’s rankings from July has him at #15. People are taking notice.

    AvatarNigel T

    Paid - Three Months

    Thanks Bob. You have me heading up to the ballpark to witness his next start. I was excited to see Parsons and came away thinking he was another in a long line of guys topping out at AA. I hope Rondon gives me more to dream on than Parsons.

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