While the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft does not get the fanfare its football and basketball counterparts enjoy, it is nonetheless the best way to build a franchise (see the St. Louis Cardinals). Part of the reason for the lack of national attention is the lack of immediate returns, as even the top picks often spend over a year in the minor leagues honing their craft. In this short-attention span society, players often get forgotten by the general public.
So when the Chicago White Sox selected North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon with the third pick in the 2014 draft, it only made headlines seemingly because he was projected by many to go number one to the Houston Astros, not because he was seen as the guy who could lead the team to the promised land.
Despite being polished enough to break into the big leagues right after the draft, Rodon toiled in the minor leagues until April 21st this year where he made his major league debut out of the bullpen against a division rival in the Cleveland Indians. His first start came on May 9th against the Cincinnati Reds.
Since then, the big southpaw has struggled with control and consistency but has also flashed great potential. Rodon is 6-6 on the season with a 4.10 ERA but also has a strikeout to walk ratio under 2.00 (123 K’s vs 64 BB’s) which has hurt him. Once he masters his command of the strike zone, the sky will be the limit for the Miami native.
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Overall, Rodon has been as good a number five starter as any team could hope, especially with his overall talent and ace potential. He has improved his periphery numbers in terms of strikeout to walk ratio as the season has gone on, as well as strikeouts per nine innings, WHIP. He also just recently threw his first career complete game.
With another offseason of pitching coach Don Cooper in his ear and mindset of knowing he will be in the major league rotation heading into the 2016 season, Rodon should explode as a part of the three-headed monster of left handed starters for the Southsiders, that includes Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
It has been a strong rookie season for Rodon, and one that certainly shows why the White Sox took him with the third pick in the 2014 draft. It is just a matter of time before the young left-hander reaches his peak and becomes a top of the rotation starter.