Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski has said that hard-throwing relief prospect Bruce Rondon is a potential option as the Detroit Tigers closer in 2013, according to Kurt Mensching of DetroitNews.com.
There are a number of flawed options available on both the free agent and trade markets this off-season, but the Tigers may elect to go with their unproven, and inexpensive, young flame-thrower.
Rondon may be unproven, but his minor league accomplishments are hard to argue with. Like many young hard-throwers, Rondon racks up huge strike out numbers but also struggles with his control. Over his career, Rondon has walked 5.1 batters per nine innings, but he got that slightly more under control in 2012, lowering his rate to 4.4.
Rondon strikes out enough batters (9.8 per nine innings for his career), and gives up few enough hits, that he can afford to walk a few more batters than most pitchers, but he will still have to get that number down slightly if he wants to be an effective major league closer. Last season, only Joel Hanrahan and John Axford had more than 25 saves and walked more than four batters per nine innings.
Rondon does have a huge ceiling as a closer, however, with Craig Kimbrel-type potential if he can get his stuff under control. That type of performance is a long way off, as much of Kimbrel's domination comes from his ability to give up so few hits while also walking just two batters per nine innings.
Rondon will likely never refine his command that much, but if he can reign it in just a little bit, he can be a major league closer as soon as 2013.