Things Are Looking Up For Rondon

TRENTON, NJ - After a 2012 season where he opened scouts eyes and earned a spot on the Yankees' 40-man roster, Francisco Rondon had taken a few steps back in 2013. He began his season with the Trenton Thunder in the starting rotation, where he struggled to a 2-2 record with a 7.16 ERA in six starts, but has turned things around lately after going back into the bullpen.

Being in a starting rotation was something new for Rondon because he hadn't started a game since 2009 when he was with the Staten Island Yankees in short season Single-A.

"I was a little uncomfortable, and I felt like that was the big change for me," Rondon said with the help of a translator. "I was a reliever for most of my career, especially recently, and then all of the sudden I was in the starting role. Being in that position demanded a lot from me, and I wasn't quite ready there."

With a plus fastball, a plus slider, and a well-developed changeup, Thunder Manager Tony Franklin wanted to see if Rondon could take the next step in his career.

"You're not going to find a guy who is going to throw that hard, have velocity or good secondary pitches, and it doesn't hurt to be left-handed," Franklin said. "So you give a guy like that a chance to see if he's going to handle starting every five days.

"Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. It's a heck of a load to carry, and you need to find out. After a while, you figure out whether he's suited for it or not, and see if the experiment was well."

He has been the victim of a few of the organization's transactions so far in 2013. He has been called up to Triple-A Scranton, called back down to Trenton, been designated for assignment, and claimed from waivers back to the Yankees system.

Since being designated for assignment, he has started progressing back to his old form and been showing flashes of his potential once again. In 18 innings since the DFA, he has only given up seven hits, eight walks, has struck out 23 batters, and has a 0.50 ERA.

"He's been great since he's come back," Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. "He's been aggressive, his velocity has gone up since he's been back in the bullpen, and he's got three plus pitches with his fastball, slider, and changeup.

"The big thing for him is that he hasn't been walking guys and beating himself. He's been getting strike one, and attacking the hitters."

Getting put on waivers and being out of a job for a few days really opened Rondon's eyes to what happens to a player when he doesn't meet the expectations of a highly touted prospect.

"That was one of the biggest motivations I've had in my baseball career," Rondon said. "I just want to show people that I can get the job done. Not being on the 40-man roster, I just want to continue to do well, and I'm hoping that I can get the shot again. Now I just want to try and finish this season strong."

It came as a shock to Phelps that the organization was able to re-sign Rondon after being on waivers because of the tools that he possessed that could be valuable to any ball club.

"I was surprised he wasn't picked up," Phelps said. "He's a left-hander who throws in the mid 90s, good slider, good changeup, he's a guy that has arm strength, and ultimately he's going to be some left-handed guy in the big leagues. He may even be a long relief guy because of his slider and changeup, but it's just been getting him out there and getting to work."

Rondon is feeling good about pitching again, something that he couldn't necessarily say before. Mentally, he's attacking hitters once again, and the results have been showing recently.

"There's no question I'm more comfortable now and I feel really good," Rondon said. "I am trying to just be aggressive out there on the mound.

"The mindset is pretty much the adjustment when pitching. I might be tweaking some stuff here and there, but overall, just being aggressive with my pitches and going after hitters."

Just because of his early season difficulties doesn't mean he won't see a spot start every now and then. In four of his last six outings, Rondon has pitched three or more innings, and has earned the trust of Franklin to maybe one day see another start in the future.

"How many relievers these days can go four innings?" Franklin asked. "But he's started and has gotten a feel for it now so if he's ever asked to do it again, there's a chance that he will embrace it. Now he has something to reference it to, and if he's asked to go back, I think he will be just fine."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nBeing in a starting rotation was something new for Rondon because he hadn't started a game since 2009 when he was with the Staten Island Yankees in short season Single-A.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was a little uncomfortable, and I felt like that was the big change for me,\" Rondon said with the help of a translator. \"I was a reliever for most of my career, especially recently, and then all of the sudden I was in the starting role. Being in that position demanded a lot from me, and I wasn't quite ready there.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a plus fastball, a plus slider, and a well-developed changeup, Thunder Manager Tony Franklin wanted to see if Rondon could take the next step in his career.
\r\n
\r\n\"You're not going to find a guy who is going to throw that hard, have velocity or good secondary pitches, and it doesn't hurt to be left-handed,\" Franklin said. \"So you give a guy like that a chance to see if he's going to handle starting every five days.
\r\n
\r\n\"Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. It's a heck of a load to carry, and you need to find out. After a while, you figure out whether he's suited for it or not, and see if the experiment was well.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe has been the victim of a few of the organization's transactions so far in 2013. He has been called up to Triple-A Scranton, called back down to Trenton, been designated for assignment, and claimed from waivers back to the Yankees system.
\r\n
\r\nSince being designated for assignment, he has started progressing back to his old form and been showing flashes of his potential once again. In 18 innings since the DFA, he has only given up seven hits, eight walks, has struck out 23 batters, and has a 0.50 ERA.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been great since he's come back,\" Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. \"He's been aggressive, his velocity has gone up since he's been back in the bullpen, and he's got three plus pitches with his fastball, slider, and changeup.
\r\n
\r\n\"The big thing for him is that he hasn't been walking guys and beating himself. He's been getting strike one, and attacking the hitters.\"
\r\n
\r\nGetting put on waivers and being out of a job for a few days really opened Rondon's eyes to what happens to a player when he doesn't meet the expectations of a highly touted prospect.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was one of the biggest motivations I've had in my baseball career,\" Rondon said. \"I just want to show people that I can get the job done. Not being on the 40-man roster, I just want to continue to do well, and I'm hoping that I can get the shot again. Now I just want to try and finish this season strong.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt came as a shock to Phelps that the organization was able to re-sign Rondon after being on waivers because of the tools that he possessed that could be valuable to any ball club.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was surprised he wasn't picked up,\" Phelps said. \"He's a left-hander who throws in the mid 90s, good slider, good changeup, he's a guy that has arm strength, and ultimately he's going to be some left-handed guy in the big leagues. He may even be a long relief guy because of his slider and changeup, but it's just been getting him out there and getting to work.\"
\r\n
\r\nRondon is feeling good about pitching again, something that he couldn't necessarily say before. Mentally, he's attacking hitters once again, and the results have been showing recently.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's no question I'm more comfortable now and I feel really good,\" Rondon said. \"I am trying to just be aggressive out there on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"The mindset is pretty much the adjustment when pitching. I might be tweaking some stuff here and there, but overall, just being aggressive with my pitches and going after hitters.\"
\r\n
\t\r\nJust because of his early season difficulties doesn't mean he won't see a spot start every now and then. In four of his last six outings, Rondon has pitched three or more innings, and has earned the trust of Franklin to maybe one day see another start in the future.
\r\n
\r\n\"How many relievers these days can go four innings?\" Franklin asked. \"But he's started and has gotten a feel for it now so if he's ever asked to do it again, there's a chance that he will embrace it. Now he has something to reference it to, and if he's asked to go back, I think he will be just fine.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

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