White Sox News

Carlos Rodon improving on his changeup

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Jun 8, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon (16) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Rice Owls in the Raleigh super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Doak Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Isn’t it a good thing to see that the No. 3 overall selection of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft – Carlos Rodon – is coachable and adding to a rarely used pitch in his arsenal since becoming a professional?

Various sites which cover the Chicago White Sox have written about how Rodon has revived a changeup to his pitch selection since joining the organization, and how the top prospect “has benefited” from the additional pitch.

Scott Merkin of WhiteSox.com had a comment from Nick Capra (the White Sox director of player development) about the additional pitch that Rodon rarely used in his collegiate days:

"“It’s a better pitch than people realize. He’s a very confident kid. If he needs to master something, he’s going to do it. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him.”"

As for the changeup pitch itself, Baseball Prospectus had this article in 2013, about the pitch and how to “miss bats” with it:

"“Want to miss bats with your changeup? Throw fastballs with a lot of velocity have some depth on your change relative to your fastballs. The best changeup whiff rates since 2011 belong to Stephen Strasburg (.54 rate, 96.4 mph fastball) and Tim Collins (.53, 93.5).”"

In the AL Central, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers also has a very good changeup pitch, and at the site BlessYouBoys.com, they recently wrote about how his changeup helps his overall game:

"“He has thrown it (the changeup) over 20 percent of the time to lefties in his career resulting in a 16.4 percent whiff rate. Opposing batters are hitting just .221 against the changeup in over 4200 plate appearances in Verlander’s career.”"

Rodon pitched at Advanced-A and Triple-A levels last season (along with a few outings in rookie ball) where his K/9 were 13.97 in Advanced-A and 13.50 with the Charlotte Knights in Triple-A according to FanGraphs.com. Exactly how much better will can those numbers be once he’s 100-percent comfortable with the changeup?

Next: Will Conor Gillaspie take the next step with White Sox?

Think about it … if Rodon can have that type of success while still tinkering with his changeup, imagine how successful he’ll be if he gains full command of that pitch and mixes it with his fastball and slider. It is a scary thought for the rest of the league.

When he was drafted, Rodon had scouting grades of Fastball: 65, Slider: 70, Changeup: 50, Control: 50 and Overall: 60.

Even with the improving changeup, the best pitch for Rodon is still his “wipeout slider,” as Jim Callis of MLB.com wrote about in June:

"“Rodon’s best pitch is a true wipeout slider that usually arrives in the mid-80s and probably could abuse big league hitters right now. He relied on it too heavily during his junior season, which cost him some fastball velocity.”"

Being this will be his first spring training with the White Sox, his changeup will be very interesting to keep an eye on as he’ll be using the pitch against MLB-level players for the first time, and then we’ll see what that pitch can do for his overall game.

That pitch might be the final decision maker as to if he starts the season in Triple-A or with the White Sox on the Opening Day roster.

More from White Sox News

In other White Sox news:

CSN Chicago crushed any thoughts of the White Sox signing James Shields.

• ChicagoBusiness.com tells us why White Sox games may have an “NBA feel” to them this season.

• The Chicago Sun-Times says the White Sox roster “appears set” as spring training nears.

• The Chicago Tribune wrote about how the White Sox are still looking at “smaller moves” before spring training.

Southside Showdown staff writer Erik Brown asks will Chris Sale win the AL Cy Young in ’15.

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