12/6 Rule 5 Draft update

The Cubs feel Hector Rondon not only is finally healthy but also could be a key part of the bullpen in 2013. The Cubs selected Rondon, who was the Indians’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, with the second pick overall in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at the Winter Meetings. Rondon, 24, has been limited the last three seasons following right elbow UCL reconstruction surgery on Aug. 25, 2010. He fractured the same joint during winter ball in Venezuela in 2011.

The Cubs have been following him in Venezuela this winter, where he’s pitching for Leones del Caracas and had a 2-1 record and 3.71 ERA in 19 games, all in relief. He has struck out 11 and walked five over 17 innings. Hitters were batting .172 against him this winter. Cubs coach Franklin Font is on the Leones staff in Venezuela, and has filed reports on Rondon, plus the Cubs have sent their scouts to watch the right-hander. All the reports have been good. Rondon led the Indians organization in strikeouts in 2009 with 137 and was fourth in innings pitched. He’s made just 13 appearances in the last three years as he rehabs his elbow.

“He was a really good prospect with the Indians,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “We’ve been watching him in Venezuela this winter and he’s been throwing really, really well. He’s got a great arm and we feel we can capitalize on that he’s healthy now and throwing the ball well.”

* The Cubs also lost four players in the Rule 5 Draft, including right-handed pitcher Starling Peralta, who was taken by the Diamondbacks 14th overall in the Major League portion. Peralta was 5-8 with a 3.44 ERA for Class A Peoria. Among his starts was a strong outing Aug. 7 against Clinton when he struck out 14 over seven innings, giving up one run on two hits.

In the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Astros selected outfielder Michael Burgess with the first pick, the Cardinals took infielder Matt Cerda, and the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Alvido Jimenez.

Burgess was a first-round pick by the Nationals in 2007, and the Cubs acquired him in January 2011 in the Tom Gorzelanny deal. Last season, he batted .259 with 10 home runs, one triple and 22 doubles at Double-A Tennessee.

Cerda played for Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season, and batted a combined .241 in 111 games with three home runs, two triples, 13 doubles and seven stolen bases. He was the Cubs’ fourth-round pick in 2008.

Jimenez was 3-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 15 games with the Cubs’ Mesa Rookie League team last season.

With the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 38.

– Carrie Muskat

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