The MLB debut of Chicago White Sox No. 1 overall prospect Carlos Rodon took less than a calendar year to occur, but it didn’t go as planned for the 22-year old lefty.
Sure he had butterflies making his debut for the White Sox, the team that selected him No. 3 overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft last June, heck many had butterflies for him when he took the mound at U.S. Cellular Field against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night for the first time.
Rodon pitched 2.1 innings of relief, taking over for White Sox right-handed starter Hector Noesi in the sixth inning with two outs. The rookie allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks, struggling to find control of his slider against the Tribe.
He did record his first major league strikeout in his debut, though the opposition hit .357 against him while his WHIP sit at 2.57.
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One positive in this first outing was the fans left at “The Cell” on Tuesday gave him a standing obviation when he came out of the bullpen.
In this debut outing with the White Sox, Rodon came into the game after Noesi had allowed two base runners on with two outs. The first batter the left-handed rookie faced was Brandon Moss who he walked.
Next for Rodon was pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn who singled a line drive to left field to score two runners. The first out Rodon recorded as a member of the White Sox was Lonnie Chisenhall, a ground out to third base ending the inning.
Perez scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley followed up with a base hit to centerfield scoring Ramirez. Rodon managed to end the inning by forcing Carlos Santana to line out to second base.
By the time the eighth inning rolled around for Rodon he improved by forcing Moss to ground out, making Chisenhall his first strikeout victim in the majors (swinging), and Perez grounded out to shortstop. The lone hit in the inning was a double by Rayburn.
In all Rodon threw 60 pitches in the debut, 29 for strikes, so that ratio will mot likely improve with more time on the mound.
Scott Merkin of WhiteSox.com quoted Rodon after the game, a 6-2 White Sox loss:
"“Yeah, a little bit of butterflies. It was fun to be out there, though,” said Rodon of his first trip to a big league mound, before pausing and finishing with, ‘Considering.'”"
According to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago he wrote of Rodon following the game:
"“Not only was he in a big league park for the first time, Rodon also pitched out of the bullpen and did so without the aid of trusted slider. All those factors and a wild start in tight spot combined for a less-than-spectacular showing for the team’s top pitching prospect.”"
With all of that said and over with, it was still nice to see Rodon out with the White Sox, though part of me still wonders if it was the right time for the South Siders to bring up the lefty after less than a full season in the minors.
Did they really give him enough time to work on his slider and changup in the lower levels of baseball, including this season with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights? In the minors this year at Charlotte, Rodon was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two starts. In those two outings he pitched a total of 10 innings, allowing four earned runs off eight hits and four walks.
I still would have liked to seen the White Sox wait another month or so before bringing Rodon to the majors, but I understand the decision for it happening now as well.
Maybe being around White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper and others will enhance his overall improvement, and with the White Sox keeping an even closer eye on him from the bullpen, maybe his progression will be even quicker as the season progresses.
The potential of watching Rodon improve with each outing will be enticing for sure this season.