The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Jorge Rondon off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. He was designated for assignment last week when the Orioles claimed Vance Worley off waivers from the Pirates.
Rondon has pitched in the majors briefly with the Orioles, Cardinals and Rockies over the last two seasons. In 15.1 innings over 11 games, he has 12.33 ERA and a 2.48 WHIP, with ten walks and nine strikeouts. He had a 2.33 ERA in 60.2 innings this season in Triple-A. He spent ten seasons in pro ball, signing with the Cardinals back in 2006 out of Venezuela. Rondon has a 4.39 minor league ERA in 590 innings, averaging 4.1 walks and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
UPDATE 11:55 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
Rondon hasn’t had the best numbers in his brief time in the majors, but you can see why he keeps getting chances. He has averaged 95 MPH with his fastball the last two years, and has touched as high as 99. He also has a hard slider that was rated the best slider in the Cardinals’ system prior to the 2013 season. He was rated their number 24 prospect at the time. The fastball/slider combo has led to some great results in the minors, but he has yet to carry that success over to the majors in a small sample size.
This move has a similar feel to it as the Arquimedes Caminero move last year. You’ve got a high upside arm with a ton of velocity and a great breaking pitch, formerly a top prospect, who has yet to break into the majors in a small sample. Like Caminero last year, Rondon is out of options, meaning he’d have to make the MLB roster out of Spring Training, or be placed on waivers. He’s a little on the older side, turning 28 in February, but when you’ve got his stuff in the bullpen, age doesn’t matter as much.
There is a chance that Rondon could be placed on waivers later in the off-season, in order to try and pass through waivers to be outrighted to the minors. The fact that he made it to the Pirates means that he passed through every American League team, and every National League team except the Cardinals. The Pirates would seemingly have a good shot at getting him through waivers and keeping him around, although that’s something they’d want to try closer to Spring Training, as he would be eligible for minor league free agency at this point in the off-season.