Rodon to get feet wet in 'pen before moving to rotation
Top prospect expected to follow similar paths of Buehrle, Sale
CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon was hanging out with his girlfriend and another good friend this past weekend, sitting on the couch watching YouTube videos, when a call came in from someone he didn't recognize via caller ID.
"That was it," said Rodon with a broad smile, addressing the media prior to Monday night's series opener between the White Sox and Cleveland at U.S. Cellular Field.
The particular call to Rodon came from White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell, informing the White Sox top-rated prospect and No. 15 overall, according to MLB.com, that he was being called up to the Major Leagues. The move is not a temporary measure, as Rodon is here to stay per comments made by general manager Rick Hahn.
Rodon, 22, begins in the White Sox bullpen, even with his future and most likely his 2015 present being part of the rotation. When the southpaw with the devastating slider makes that move from relief has yet to be determined.
"There is no date on anyone's calendar when he's going to be in the rotation," said Hahn. "We just know ultimately he's going to wind up there."
"For now, the plan is just to be in the bullpen," Rodon said. "I haven't really spoken to them about it. That's a conversation for down the road."
Former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle made 25 of his 28 appearances in relief for the 2000 American League Central champions. He has gone on to post 14 straight seasons of double-digit victories, at least 200 innings and at least 30 starts.
Chris Sale arrived in the Majors the year he was drafted in 2010, and threw 79 games in relief over two seasons. Hahn made it clear Monday that Rodon's relief stint won't be that extended.
If there's any concern about Rodon losing the strides made in his changeup, for example, because of this move from Triple-A Charlotte starter to White Sox reliever, a look at Sale's effective usage of that same pitch in his repertoire should assuage any negative thoughts.
"Oh, it's still there," said Rodon of the changeup. "It's a good pitch."
Essentially, Rodon forced the White Sox hand to bring him to the Majors, regardless of the team's 4-7 record or the need with Javy Guerra going on the disabled list.
Overusing the slider in a nine-strikeout effort against the Royals on March 25 raised a bit of a red flag for the White Sox with Rodon, the same red flag that briefly moved Sale from starter to closer in 2012. But over his next three starts, Rodon showed what the White Sox needed to see with pitch balance and effectiveness to believe his next best development step was in the Majors.
His highest innings total came in 2013 for North Carolina St. at 132 1/3. So while Rodon is now a full-fledged big league member, that rotation move might be a little ways off to control his first-year workload.
"I don't think anyone could reasonably expect any pitcher a year out of college to make 32 starts and average six innings a start," Hahn said. "It will be some level below that in terms of what we will be able to get out of this guy physically and developmentally.
"A way to maximize that is to start him out in the bullpen, get him some work here, get his feet wet, get him acclimated to the big leagues, everything that goes about being a successful big league pitcher. Then make that transition to the rotation when the time is right. It's about in part his development, in part preservation of the resource and in part maximizing his ability for the long term."