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Keith Law ranks Julio Urias ahead of Carlos Rodon in Top 100

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Jun 16, 2013; Omaha, NE, USA; NC State Wolfpack pitcher Carlos Rodon (16) during their College World Series game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA Today Sports

ESPN’s Keith Law has released his Top 100 MLB Prospects for the upcoming 2015 season, with White Sox No. 1 prospect Carlos Rodon as the 12th overall ranked prospect on the ESPN Insider list.

The 22-year old Rodon is the second-highest ranked left-handed pitcher on the list, with only 18-year-old Julio Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization ranked higher at No. 9 on the list.

Mar 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (84) throws in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Law’s No. 1 overall prospect was Kris Bryant, a third baseman from the Chicago Cubs.

Since Rodon and Urias are the top two left-handed pitchers on Law’s list, let’s compare the two, while adding in what Law thinks of both players.

With Rodon, we know he was the No. 3 overall selection in the ’14 draft out of North Carolina State. Rodon pitched at three different levels for the White Sox organization after being drafted, including reaching the Triple-A level with the Charlotte Knights for a handful of games toward the end of the season.

Remembering back at the draft with Rodon, I felt (as did many others) he was the best pitcher in the entire draft, and who would have thought he would drop to the third selection, because he does have the tools to be a No. 1 overall selection.

It was basically Christmas in July when the White Sox were able to draft Rodon, who hopefully one day will be the ace of the White Sox rotation.

In his rankings, Law said of the 6-3, 23-pound Rodon:

"“He has the wipeout pitch to work at the top of someone’s rotation, striking out 200-plus batters a year, and his upside is limited mostly by how often he can locate his fastball where he wants.”"

Law also wrote in ’13 some of the best amateur scouts said Rodon has the best slider they’d seen in 15-20 years, as at the time it was up to 96 MPH.

In ’14, Rodon finished his first partial professional season with a 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched. He struck out 38 batters and walked 13.

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One part of Rodon’s game that jumps off the page is his K/9 in his three MiLB stops being 14.1, with a 4.8 BB/9. He also didn’t allow a home run last summer, facing 108 batters.

At mymlbdraft.com, the scouting report on Rodon was the following at the time of the draft:

"“Rodon’s fastball is all the more effective because of his slider, which is the best breaking-ball of any pitcher in this year’s class. It sits in the mid-80s with ridiculous movement that will give both left and right-handed hitters fits thanks to its bite and speed.”"

There are talks Rodon could be used as a reliever in the majors to start the ’15 season, but the more I think about it, I don’t think it would be a bad thing to have Rodon just be a starter at the Triple-A level to open this season either. It may be better to get him in that type of rhythm as a pro starter and not randomly out of the bullpen.

Again, other days I’ve thought differently on that matter, and with it still being January, maybe my mind will change again.

With Rodon, though, the White Sox are very lucky to have his services, and his progression to the majors as an every fifth day starter will continue to be a top priority of White Sox fans.

Now about Urias of the Dodgers organization. How good must this kid be if he is ninth overall at 18 years old? In his time as a pro last season with the Dodgers organization, Urias was 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 87.2 innings pitched.

Urias struck out 109 batters and walked 37.

Law said of the 5-11, 160-pound Dodgers prospect:

"“Urias has a shot at a legitimate four-pitch mix, a fastball from 92-95 with little effort, a future-plus curveball at 78-80 and an average changeup at 81-84 with some fading action to it. I’ve also seen him throw a hard slider at 84-86 that he’d use to lefties and backdoor to righties.”"

Though these two have great potential, it is still a little tough to compare these two at such a young age and the variety of levels they’ve both pitched or will be pitching at in the minors (possibly majors) in ’15.

With Rodon, he’s soared through the White Sox farm system, though he did have three seasons of collegiate baseball before becoming a pro. With Urias, this is basically his college ball or time to become the pitcher he’s projected to become, since currently his highest level of pro ball is the Advanced-A level.

In Law’s thoughts on Urias, he does go on to say with his current skill set and pitching repertoire consisting of four “above-average” pitches, he’ll be “ready to make an immediate impact on a major-league rotation.”

Maybe it is a bit of bias, but I like the pitcher the White Sox have under contract in Rodon, and if all goes well for the 22-year-old he’s most likely destined to become the next ace of the White Sox pitching staff. He’ll have some good teachers along the way in ’15 in pitching coach Don Cooper, and teammates Chris Sale (who had a very similar path to the majors) and Jeff Samardzija.

Rodon’s ascension to the majors will be not only interesting, but hopefully enjoyable to see in the coming months, but with Urias ranked just ahead of him, I’m guessing these two pitchers will be linked once they reach the majors for good.

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