Sox see top prospect Rodon making quick leap to Majors
First-round pick from 2014 could join bullpen next season, rotation soon
CHICAGO -- The legend of Carlos Rodon hit full stride before the 22-year-old threw a single big league pitch for the White Sox.
In fact, the top prospect in the organization according to MLB.com has only 24 2/3 innings combined at the Minor League level after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
Yet there's already talk as to whether the southpaw can break Spring Training with the team, possibly in the bullpen. There's also speculation about when he will be ready to fill out a starting rotation that already includes Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana and John Danks.
Any first-round pick automatically comes with a lofty set of expectations. Those who saw Rodon up close and personal last year believe the hype is warranted.
"He's worth every amount of money we paid him," said Tyler Danish, a right-handed starter in the White Sox organization who pitched with Rodon at Class A Winston-Salem. "His slider is one of the most devastating pitches I've ever seen, and the kid works hard. When you are around him, you don't know he's the third pick. Just a great kid."
"When I saw [Rodon] in Winston-Salem, he looked like he didn't belong on the field. He was that advanced for that level," said White Sox director of player development Nick Capra. "He settled in really well over a short period in Charlotte. Aggressive kid, four pitches."
Rodon's 2014 race through the Minors looked like it might culminate with a September callup. But the fact was that Rodon wasn't needed on a team well out of contention, and he wasn't deemed ready.
After striking out 38 and walking just 13 last season, Rodon could still work on improving his fastball command. The White Sox didn't have a great deal of time to work with him on those intricacies, but there seems to be collective agreement that Rodon has the makeup to thrive immediately.
"You can see in his body language that Carlos is more experienced," Capra said. "Pitching in the big leagues, you have to be mentally tough, and I think he is. But you also have to be prepared and be confident and command your pitches."
"What [Rodon] does well, he certainly showed this summer. It's just a matter of tightening everything up and becoming a Major League guy for a long time," White Sox Minor League field coordinator Kirk Champion said. "I just know they are anxious to see what Carlos is going to be like at the Major League level when it gets to be his time."
A once barren White Sox system now has the likes of Danish, Frank Montas, Spencer Adams and Chris Beck moving quickly through the Minors, with Rodon figuring to be the best of the group. The organization's decision with regard to his usage next year ultimately will be based on the best interest of Rodon's big-picture development as a starter and not what's best for the team in 2015.
Eventually, those two targets could collide.