You know how I have criticized virtually every Rule 5 pick the Cubs have made over the last several seasons, no matter who the GM was who made it?

Maybe, just maybe, the Cubs finally have a keeper.

Hector Rondon threw the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers Wednesday afternoon. And unlike Lendy Castillo, Hector Rondon does appear "ready for prime time." Yes, I know. One appearance, and facing mostly minor leaguers and NRI guys (including two former Cubs, James Adduci and Jeff Baker; Geovany Soto also played, so the only former Cub now in Rangers camp we didn't see was Randy Wells). But Rondon made quick work of the first two hitters he faced with easy ground balls. The next hitter, Baker, smacked a ball to deep center field. Matt Szczur turned the wrong way on it, but nearly caught it anyway. A good major-league center fielder catches that ball; Baker wound up with a double. And then Rondon threw a nasty bender to get Aaron Cunningham on a called third strike.

As I said, one outing. So far, I like what I see.

I can't say the same about Hisanori Takahashi, who's trying to make the bullpen as the second lefty behind James Russell. He threw three innings, and some of it was good -- four strikeouts, and three of them of very good hitters (A.J. Pierzynski once, Adrian Beltre twice). But he also gave up a long home run to Lance Berkman -- it took one bounce off the berm and nearly bounced into the parking lot before someone ran it down -- and issued two walks in the first inning.

Maybe Takahashi still makes it. But he didn't help himself with this outing.