SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There could be an American League Central matchup in the works for this season that would capture a lot of attention in Valencia, Venezuela. That's the hometown of Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Detroit pitcher Bruce Rondon, a candidate to be the Tigers' closer.
"I know him from Valencia, my city. We played in the Little League together, for different teams when we were about 12 to 14 years old," Perez said.
Rondon is listed as 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds and he's reputed to have a fastball at 100 mph-plus.
"I remember he pitched and he threw hard. Not good command, but he threw hard," Perez said. "But he was just 12 years old and now he's better. He played winter ball this year in Venezuela and he threw really good."
Rondon, 22, was a Venezuelan Winter League teammate of Royals outfielder Endy Chavez, another product of Valencia.
"He can throw hard and he's got pretty good talent. He's a big guy, he can throw strikes, got a pretty good split and he's a good kid, too," Chavez said.
The word is that Rondon's velocity can reach 102 or 103 mph.
"A hundred and four sometimes," Perez said. "He throws like Kelvin Herrera."
Perez, who played a limited schedule in Venezuela, didn't face Rondon over the winter but might this summer.
"I'll be looking for the fastball," Perez said.