As Opening Day approaches and the trickle of prospects out of big league camps picks up steam, two more heralded names were sent back to the Minor Leagues on Thursday afternoon.
No. 2 Rockies prospect Nolan Arenado was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he'll begin the year and make his Pacific Coast League debut, and Bruce Rondon, who had been a candidate to win the Tigers closing job, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Arenado appeared in 19 games for Colorado this spring, logging 54 plate appearances. The third baseman hit .278 and flashed solid power, slugging .574 with four homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs.
The 21-year-old third baseman hit .285/.337/.428 in 134 games last season with Double-A Texas. He told MLB.com he was disappointed not to be leaving camp a member of the Rockies, but that he was ready to work in Colorado Springs to earn his shot.
"It definitely hurts, no question about it. That wasn't their plan for me to make this team. I've just got to deal with it, so I'll go down to Triple-A and things go well. And I'll stay healthy. If both of those happen, I'll be back," he said. "I made my case for being in there. I came ready, and I showed them what I've got.
"They said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. Keep working hard and find your way back here.'"
Rondon, a 22-year-old right-hander, flashed the stuff this spring that makes him the heir apparent at closer in Detroit, but struggled at times with command, walking nine in 12 1/3 innings while fanning 19. He went 2-1 with a 5.84 ERA.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com Rondon was simply being given a chance to iron out the kinks in Toledo.
"We like him a lot. He's thrown the ball very well at times this spring. All the times, you can see his arm strength and all that's attached. But we just thought he would benefit a little bit more by some more development time," he said.
Detroit's second-ranked prospect pitched between three levels last season, beginning the year in Class A Advanced Lakeland and ending at Toledo. Along the way he tallied 53 innings, compiling a 1.53 ERA with 66 strikeouts and 26 walks.