Yankees' left-handed relief prospect Francisco Rondon has had a pretty long, up-and-down ride in his minor league career, especially in 2013. He impressed out of camp and held a valuable spot on the Yankees' 40-man roster. But, after relieving for each of the past three seasons, he was slated to start games for the Trenton Thunder. Things did not go well for him out of the Thunder rotation, but since getting DFA'd and moved back into the bullpen, the 25-year-old has turned his season, and perhaps his career, around.
It was sort of a head-scratching move that the Yankees would send a reliever who already had moved to the bullpen from the rotation four years prior back into the rotation, but perhaps it was just an experiment. However, it was an experiment that did not work out very well. In six starts for the Thunder, Rondon posted a 6.99 ERA while walking 17 batters in just 28.1 innings pitched. Opposing batters even tagged him for an even .800 OPS against. It was pretty ugly all around for Francisco.
Rondon did get a chance to straighten himself out back in the bullpen, though. After getting pulled from Trenton's starting rotation, Rondon continued to struggle as a reliever. He pitched to an 8.59 ERA in six appearances, 7.1 innings, while walking eight and allowing an .814 OPS against. The Yankees decided to pull the plug on Rondon as they DFA'd him to create a spot on the 40-man roster for David Huff. Yeah, Rondon pretty much hit rock-bottom there.
Oddly enough, no one claimed Rondon once he was DFA'd. He still had minor league options to his disposal and a team could have taken a chance on a guy who throws relatively hard with a pretty nasty slider and stashed him in their system, but I guess not. Thankfully, he cleared waivers and the Yankees were able to keep him, and it has paid off. Since being DFA'd on May 25 and reassigned, Rondon has pitched to a sparkling 1.54 in 13 games (10 with the Thunder, three with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders) while holding batters to a .534 OPS against with 38 strikeouts in 35 innings.
If Rondon continues to flourish he could at least earn his spot back on the 40-man roster. With Boone Logan potentially leaving via free agency this winter, the team will need a lefty reliever out of the bullpen. Sure, Rondon may not be ready to make the jump just yet, considering his control troubles (career 13.6% BB-rate, 14% BB-rate since being DFA'd) but he could be in the mix. After all, he has handled left-handed batters this year (.552 OPS against), last year (.612 OPS against), the year before that (.547 OPS against), and so on and so forth. Rondon fell off the map for a while, but now he is now back on it and he could get a chance to further prove himself.