DETROIT -- Tigers relief prospect Bruce Rondon and his triple-digit fastball allowed just two earned runs on 15 hits over 21 2/3 innings for Double-A Erie, overmatching most of the Eastern League. The Tigers have decided to give the right-hander a new challenge by stepping him up a level with a month to go in the Minor League season.
Detroit made the move official on Monday, promoting Rondon from Erie to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers have said nothing about whether Rondon -- the club's No. 4 prospect, according to MLB.com -- could end up being a September callup once rosters expand, but Monday's move will probably fuel speculation.
Rondon, 21 and listed at 270 pounds, has regularly topped 100 mph on radar guns. He hit 102 mph on the Kauffman Stadium radar gun at last month's XM All-Star Futures Game. That kind of fastball, no doubt, can make an impact in the big leagues. The question is whether that impact will come this year.
"I'm just going to keep working hard, and we will see what happens in the future," Rondon told reporters at the Futures Game. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. All I can do is control how hard I work."
The move was a bit of a surprise. If Rondon was going to be moved at all, the expected destination was the big leagues, given the belief that there was little he could learn at Triple-A. Mud Hens closer Chris Bootcheck's injury on Sunday night might have changed the organization's thought process.
"In our evaluation, Rondon was ready to be moved to Toledo," Tigers vice president/assistant general manager Al Avila wrote in an email on Monday.