NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon was selected third overall by the White Sox during the most recent major-league draft on the strength of a fastball/slider combination about which obscene poems have been written — which poems, shortly after having been written, were also then ripped up and thrown into the fire by the confused and perspiring scouts who wrote them.
More quickly than even those totally enamored scouts could have reasonably predicted, Rodon has parlayed his ecstatic repertoire into an excellent, if brief, minor-league career. After striking out 15 of the 42 batters (35.7%) he faced over four appearances with High-A Winston-Salem, Rodon earned rather an aggressive promotion to Triple-A Charlotte. There, he’s produced roughly the same rates, having now recorded 11 strikeouts against just 28 batters (39.3%) over two starts and 7.0 innings — including a four-inning, eight-strikeout performance on Sunday (box).
Command has been an issue: over those same seven innings at Triple-A, Rodon has recorded five walks — that is, against roughly 18% of the batters he’s faced. Even so, his capacity to miss bats in the highest of the minor leagues has created the very real possibility that he might appear in the majors at some point in September.
On Carlos Rodon, GM Rick Hahn says no set plan yet whether he will be Sept. call-up. Could be a starter if he does get call.
— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) August 20, 2014
“No set plan” indicates the Sox are willing to entertain the idea of promoting Rodon to the majors — which, that’s a remarkable thing in itself. Consider, for example, this table, which features every player from the past five years to make his major-league debut in the same year he was drafted:
|Chris Sale||White Sox||2010||23.1||61||0.6|
That’s a list of only two players — and, notably, both Rodriguez and Sale were deployed as left-handed relievers on clubs which, if not necessarily in the thick of contention, at least managed second-place finishes in their respective divisions. The present iteration of the White Sox, meanwhile, aren’t even in the thin of contention. And the prospect of Rodon actually starting major-league games months removed from his last college appearance is an unusual, compelling one.
In conclusion — and for no other reason than because it’s beautiful — here’s footage of Rodon’s slider from his most recent start with Charlotte:
And that same pitch in slow motion:
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