If you're thinking the Tigers plan to know exactly what they have in Bruce Rondon a week, two or even three into spring training, you can forget about it.
They know better.
And, thus, they know they might not have a clue about the 22-year-old right-hander's ability to close ballgames at the major league level until the regular season is well under way.
That's because, as odd as it seems, spring training isn't always the best way to evaluate ability or project results.
Two years ago, Jhonny Peralta didn't collect a single RBI in 66 Grapefruit League at-bats, then drove in a run on Opening Day. Four years ago, newly signed reliever Brandon Lyon put on a horrific display in a spring training game, once — seriously! — allowing back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs. He went on to have a dynamite lone season in Detroit.
It can work the other way, too. Take Ryan Raburn, for example. He absolutely raked at the plate last spring, with six home runs and 19 RBIs in exhibition games. But then he was absolutely awful during the season (one homer, 12 RBIs), leading to his departure from The D.
Then there's this: The 1984 Tigers were 11-17 in the spring. And we all know how that turned out.
Spring training, simply put, is just different.
The atmosphere is way more chill than in-season, especially for the established veterans — many of whom are distracted by tee times and fishing expeditions — as the games don't matter. Plus, you're rarely facing a team's best players for a full five innings, let alone nine, as everyone is trying to get a good look at the fringe players and prospects.
Rondon is one of those prospects — a rare one, in that he's already been slotted into the Tigers Opening Day plans, and in all likelihood as the closer.
That's a mighty tall order for a youngster who's never pitched in the major leagues, started last year in Single A ball and only nine times has pitched at Triple A. But clearly, the Tigers think the world of Rondon, — who just this week was named the No. 3 prospect in the system, behind outfielders Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia, by ESPN's Keith Law — so they won't fall into the trap of determining his fate based on misleading spring-training statistics.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130207/SPORTS0104/302070400#ixzz2KDyL71Ko
Tigers won't play numbers game with Bruce Rondon in camp
Detroit News | Feb 7