White Sox rookie Jose Rondon introducing power to versatile profile
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BALTIMORE — Utility infielder Jose Rondon is commanding attention as a potential keeper for the White Sox because of his pleasantly surprising power surge. Rondon, 24, clubbed his fifth homer in 85 plate appearances Wednesday in the Sox’ 4-2 win in 10 innings in Kansas City — some nice pop for a player who’s also looking to expand his versatility in the field.
An average-to-above-average defender, according to manager Rick Renteria, Rondon can play shortstop, second base and third base, and he’s going to play the outfield for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela this winter.
“I’m a little bit surprised by the power, but not that much, because I worked for that in the offseason,” Rondon said Friday through an interpreter. “I was on a program to build up strength and get my body in a better place to hit the ball harder. And the results have been there.”
Rondon, on the bench with a .256/.318/.513 hitting line Friday at the start of the Sox’ game against the Orioles, had 18 homers, 15 doubles and four triples in 80 games for Class AAA Charlotte this season. Traded from the Padres for cash considerations in January, he had 17 homers total in seven minor-league seasons before this year.
“The swing he has is pretty simple,” Renteria said. “He’s pretty aggressive in the zone. He barrels it, he has good leverage and stays underneath himself very well, so I’m not surprised he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Good for us he can do that.”
Rondon said he feels confident about bringing good defense and quality at-bats to the park every day.
“They’ve given me a chance to show what I can do,” he said. “I also think I haven’t shown as much as I can because I haven’t had a complete chance.”
Said Renteria: “He’s a utility-type player for us right now. Gives us good at-bats, can play multiple positions. He has shown us he can sit for a day or two or three and be used and give you a nice outing.”
Covey stays in rotation
Renteria said right-hander Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.64 ERA), who gave up five earned runs in 4⅓ innings against the Royals on Tuesday as the replacement for Michael Kopech in the rotation, will keep a turn in Cleveland.
“He didn’t do a bad job last time,” Renteria said.
Covey’s turn would be Tuesday, but days off would allow Carlos Rodon to be moved ahead of Covey to Tuesday, allowing Rodon to start against the Cubs next Sunday in the finale of their three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
This and that
Matt Davidson, who missed the Royals series with a sore left calf, was available but out of the lineup against the Orioles with left-handed-hitting Daniel Palka at designated hitter.
• Advanced Rookie Great Falls went 4-0 in the postseason, claiming its first Pioneer League championship since 2011.