|That's Rondon rocking triple digits in last summer's Futures Game. (US Presswire)|
With Jose Valverde now gone and pretty much every feasible closing option on the free- agency market signed elsewhere, the Tigers are set to hand over closing duties to prospect Bruce Rondon. Though he's not yet thrown a pitch at the major-league level, he already has something very few do: A triple-digit heater.
Assistant general manager Al Avila told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday that he has seen Rondon hit 103 on the radar. After seeing this, I hopped over to the excellent brooksbaseball.net to check out if they had any data on Rondon. They do. It's only four pitches from the 2012 Futures Game, but Rondon threw four four-seam fastballs that averaged 102.1 miles per hour.
That average will obviously go down over the course of a season, but that's an elite heater. In 2012, Kelvin Herrera of the Royals had the fastest average fastball at 98.5 mph (via Fangraphs.com), followed by Carter Capps of the Mariners (98.3), Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (97.7), Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez (97.7) and Padres starter Andrew Cashner (97.7).
Rondon, 22, had 29 saves with a 1.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 53 innings last season across three different levels (23 1/3 innings in High-A, 21 2/3 in Double-A and eight in Triple-A).
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