Final 2004 Scouting Report: RP, Celso Rondon

The New York Mets signed Celso Rondon as an international free agent out of Venezuela at the age of 16 years old. Rondon, who just completed his third minor league season in the Mets' farm system, is a budding closer prospect that will be at the top of the prospect charts sometime soon. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Vital Statistics:
Name: Celso Rondon
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: April 7, 1984
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Mets signed Rondon out of Venezuela back in 2000 and assigned him to their Venezuelan Summer League team for the 2001 season. At just 17 years old, Rondon made eight starts for the Universidad de Carabobo (also one relief appearance) and went 2-2 with a 1.23 ERA while striking out 47 batters in 44 innings pitched. After his terrific debut in the VSL, the Mets sent Rondon to the Appalachian League with the Kingsport Mets in 2002 to begin his professional career in the United States.

Despite being used as a starter in Venezuela, Rondon was shifted to the bullpen for the K-Mets and struggled in his U.S. debut. Rondon had major control problems, not uncommon for a rookie player in a foreign country. The Mets decided to send Rondon back to Kingsport in 2003 for some more seasoning and the results were a lot better as he earned the closer role for the K-Mets. Rondon posted an excellent 4 to 1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and averaged better than 15 strikeouts per nine innings as the closer, drawing early comparisons to former Mets closer Armando Benitez.

Rondon was sent to the South Atlantic League this past season to begin the year with the Capital City Bombers and was used primarily as a setup man. The Bombers were using a closer-by-committee approach as the likes of Shane Hawk, Carlos Muniz, Greg Ramirez, and Anthony Acosta all figured in to manager Jack Lind's plans to close out games. Rondon was sent to Brooklyn to be the Cyclones' closer when the NY-Penn League began in mid-June and Rondon once again responded well. He closed out 12 games for the 'Clones and demonstrated improved command of his pitches.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2004

Capital City

4-3

1

36.1

32

14

41

4.71

2004

Brooklyn

3-2

12

36.1

20

17

47

2.23

2003

Kingsport

2-2

11

26.1

19

11

44

4.10

2002

Kingsport

2-1

0

35.1

48

23

32

6.37


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Splitter.

Fastball. Rondon has a Major League fastball that averages around 93 MPH and reaches 95 MPH on the gun at times.

Other Pitches. Rondon has a Big-League curveball that averages around 74-78 MPH and serves as his out pitch. He compliments his fastball and curveball with a developing slider that sits around 81-84 MPH and is working on a splitter that has been clocked around 85-86 MPH.

Pitching. He has two Major League plus pitches with his fastball and curveball. He's shown a good increase in the command of his pitches and his slider and splitter are only going to make him more effective on the mound. He sets up his fastball with good breaking stuff and keeps hitters off balance by working both sides of the plate.

Projection. Rondon has the potential to be a Big-League closer someday, or at minimum, an excellent setup guy. He has one of the more extensive repertoires among the relief pitching prospects for the Mets. The one thing that could hold him back is his increasing weight. Rondon weighed in at 160 lbs when he signed and is now listed at 225 lbs, which may appear to be generously moderate. He'll have to keep his weight down to avoid injuries down the road.

ETA. 2008. Rondon is ready to make a big push in the prospect rankings if he can show improved command on the mound and improved discipline with his weight. He should be the closer for Hagerstown in 2005 which should put him on pace to reach the Majors at the age of 24.

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