With the 3rd pick in the 2014 MLB Draft the Chicago White Sox selected LHP Carlos Rodon from N.C. State.
Rodon was the consensus number 1 prospect in this draft class entering the year, but some inconsistent performances brought him back to the pack and allowed the Sox to nab him at #3. At his best he features a mid 90’s fastball that can top out at 97 with a wipe-out slider that is the best single pitch in this class. He also features a changeup which flashes plus potential, though he did not use it much this year. Rodon has a strong, durable 6-3, 234 frame, though Baseball America note that he may lack athleticism and projection. He’s ultra competitive, with an ace pitcher mentality.
Rodon was one of the most impressive statistical performers in college this year as he struck out 117 batters in 98 IP, with 31 BB and 15 HBP. His ERA was 2.01. For Rodon, however, this was seen as something of a disappointment after his near historic sophomore campaign, during which he struck out 184 in 132.1 IP with 45 BB and 16 HBP.
Rodon needs to work on his command and changeup in order to live up to his potential as a future Major League ace. Despite this, he could move quickly, and there is a possibility that we see Rodon in the Sox bullpen sometime this year, similar to Chris Sale back in 2010.
One of the other concerns about Rodon is how hard he was used this year, as he often went 100+ pitches in his starts for N.C. State, even racking up 130+ pitches in a couple of starts. He also throws his slider a lot, and there are some who believe that heavy slider usage can lead to an increased injury risk.
Another potential concern about Rodon is his signability. There was a tweet earlier today from Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel that indicated Rodon was looking for a “$6m plus” signing bonus. The slot recommendation for the #3 pick is $5,721,500, so he will likely need to be an over-slot sign, which could prevent the Sox from drafting tough signability guys later on in the draft. The Sox could try to get creative, and guarantee Rodon a quick ascent to MLB in return for a lower signing bonus, again similar to what they did with Chris Sale, though I’m not sure how receptive Scott Boras would be to this.
There’s no doubting Rodon’s upside. He has a great chance to be the best player in this draft class. He will need some work, but the White Sox have done a terrific job of developing pitchers recently, so he’s in a great position to become the second lefty ace atop the White Sox rotation. He easily becomes the #1 prospect in the Sox system as soon as he signs.
For more information including detailed scouting reports and scouting grades on Rodon, check out our draft preview here.