Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 11, Adrian Rondon
Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing. Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
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We’ll go through this exercise in an odd way, to make things more interesting. The first one to be looked at will be #40, then #30, then #20, and #10. Then we’ll go through 41, 31, 21, and 11. We’ll go through each ranking until we are all done 11-50, all aside from the Top 10. Then we’ll have a regular countdown for the top 10.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mike Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is likely out of the top 10 for one season only….
#11: Adrian Rondon, SS, 18 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 190 lbs
- Ranked: as the Top International Prospect available in 2014
- Signed: for $2,950,000
- 2015 Affiliate: GCL (youngest in the league)
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2020+
Rondon’s Fielding Stats
Rondon’s 2014 Splits
- Ranked as the top international prospect available in 2014
- Did not rank within the top 20 GCL prospects post-2015
- Currently listed as the 7th best Rays prospect by MLB.com
- Has been compared to Starlin Castro in terms of ceiling by some
- Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has his arm already improving from 55 to 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also notes that part of what attracted the Rays to Rondon was his ability to fight off 90+ MPH pitches
- Minor League Ball had Rondon listed as the 14th best Rays prospect pre-2015
- Managed 4 games with multiple hits in 2015
- From the end of July to the end of the season, his line dropped from .186/.278/.279 to .166/.256/.234
- Most concerning of all was his line with RISP of .045/.192/.091
- Due to exceeding their international cap by more than 15% when they signed Rondon and others, the Rays paid a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and weren’t able to sign a player for more than $300,000 in 2015, and won’t be able to do it in the 2016-17 signing period either. The reason they were willing to do it is indicated within their tweet announcing the signing,
Best Tools & Abilities
- Maturity and makeup beyond his years
- Above-average looking projections in most areas
- Steadfast defender
- Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
First and foremost, there are no guarantees when it comes to international scouting and results. There are plenty of great signings, and there are plenty of heartbreaks. To illustrate this, here are the last 6 top international signings from the July 2nd signing periods:
- 2013: Eloy Jimenez, of, Dominican Republic (LoA, #14 CHC prospect)
- 2012: Jairo Beras, of, Dominican Republic (LoA, #23 TEX prospect)
- 2011: Nomar Mazara, of, Dominican Republic (AAA, #2 TEX prospect)
- 2010: Adonys Cardona, sp, Venezuela (LoA, DNP in 2015)
- 2009: Miguel Sano, 3b, Dominican Republic (MLB)
- 2008: Michael Ynoa, sp, Dominican Republic (HiA, not ranked)
That’s not to say I lean one way or the other with Rondon, although my instincts tell me his floor is as an average MLB regular, while his ceiling remains much-much higher.
Defensively, Rondon has a lot of potential and if he can stay a SS – as most people agree he will – he should become a steadfast defender. He’s been described as having a “strong arm, quick feet and natural baseball instincts”. The inclination that his defensive game is strong is likely a major reason for his skipping the Latin American level of play despite his young age.
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As of today, the majority of his offensive abilities have been projections. Power, contact, and an ability to his the best fastballs were strengths pointed out by many scouts and analysts when he was signed, and most still hold true. However, he has yet to show any of these items through 164 PA. Baseball America did not that he’s more likely to develop line-drive power at this point than raw power.
Rondon was 3.4 years younger than the average player in the GCL last season and he never faced a pitcher that was younger than he is, so you can understand his being slightly overmatched. Still, it was slightly disheartening to see so little to be upbeat about across the majority of his stats.
We’re not panicking yet and it’s not going to impact his status as an elite prospect. What we have decided to do is to see how next year turns out, hold him just outside the top 10 until he displays the attributes assigned to him by so many. At that point, if it’s enough of an upgrade, he’ll return to the top 10 and we’ll be ecstatic.
The Rays are almost certain to ask Rondon to repeat the GCL at this point, which begs the question as to why he was put there in the first place at such a young age. Were their expectations too high? It does seem like the organization had a bit of a crush on Rondon, as they jumped in with both feet and paid a heavy price for signing him to such a high contract.
Despite the lower ranking and focus on seeing how he adjusts next year, we still expect Rondon will be able to put himself back on the map as an elite prospect in short-order. With his complete package sharpening more quickly that his results indicate, there’s still a good chance he’ll be one of the best prospects the Rays have in LoA by the end of 2017.
Rondon is an exciting prospect to have within the Rays ranks. His ceiling may be higher than any other and we are cheering for him to regain his lustre in 2015. The tools are there and well ahead of where they should be at his age. If he bulks up quite a bit, there’s a chance he moves to 3B, and if not he has the defensive ability to stick at SS. Either way, everything about him is projected based on his standout skills.
In terms of rankings next year, we see him regaining at least some of his elite status and jumping back into the top 5 on this list, one he may be on atop of before long.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects: #10 Ryan Brett
At worse, I’d expect Rondon to be the perfect 2-hole hitter way down the road for the Rays. The kind of hitter that frustrates opposing pitchers by fouling off some of their best pitches. At best, he could be the best bat they’ve had since Evan Longoria was brought into the fold and anchor the middle of the lineup for years.
We all know the Rays bet huge on his abilities and are fully expecting him to become an all-star as a Rays infielder. Should that fail to happen, they’ll be more disappointed than we would be.
Here’s a short video of Rondon’s quick bat at work: