8/8/2014 2:07 P.M. ET
White Sox could give Rodon a look in September
No. 3 overall pick in 2014 First-Year Player Draft has impressed in Minor Leagues
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Nothing has been promised to Carlos Rodon.
There was no immediate Major League guarantee included with the talented left-hander's franchise-record $6.582 million signing bonus after Rodon was drafted by the White Sox with the third selection overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
General manager Rick Hahn even cautioned against judging Rodon's potential climb based solely on his immense ability, allowing the southpaw to get adjusted to a new system and the everyday nature of professional baseball. Rodon's movement would be based on how he responded to each challenge.
But if Rodon continues to look as impressive as he has during five games combined with the Arizona Rookie League White Sox and Class A Winston-Salem, there's a better-than-average chance he'll pitch in the Majors during the same season he was drafted.
Call it the Chris Sale development path, with the current White Sox ace going from the 13th selection overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft to the White Sox bullpen in just about two months. Sale worked four innings for Winston-Salem and 6 1/3 innings for Charlotte in '10, covering 11 games, which followed the 103 innings he threw that same season for Florida Gulf Coast University as a starter. Sale was told by then-general manager Ken Williams on the day of his selection that he had that bullpen opportunity ahead of him.
Once Sale arrived with the White Sox, he posted a 1.93 ERA over 21 games and 23 1/3 innings. He even picked up four saves following his debut on Aug. 6, 2010, at Camden Yards.
Sale worked the 2011 season exclusively out of the bullpen before joining the rotation the next year. He has asserted himself as one of the game's top starters and a three-time All-Star. The plan for Rodon has been and will be to use him in the bullpen this year (where the White Sox lone current left-hander is Eric Surkamp) in order to manager his workload after Rodon threw 98 2/3 innings for North Carolina St. He would then be moved full-time into a starting role next year and beyond.
Rodon made his first start for Winston-Salem on Thursday afternoon and hurled three scoreless innings at Potomac. He struck out three, allowed two hits and walked one. Over Rodon's five Minor League appearances, including two starts, the southpaw has fanned 13, walked four and allowed eight hits in nine innings.
Even if the top-ranked White Sox prospect was to follow that Sale-like path to the Majors, Rodon's potential promotion does not fall under the current-concern category for manager Robin Ventura.
"I'm not even going down that far," Ventura said. "We are concerned about what's going on right here. If they say he's pitching well enough to come up, then the more the merrier at this point."
With Rodon not "throwing a pitch in anger," as Hahn pointed out, for a two-month period starting May 16 with his final start for the Wolfpack, the White Sox were not going to rush him as he built up his arm strength. Rodon ultimately might be hard to ignore as a September addition, and the White Sox have never been a team to shy away from giving young players a chance, regardless of the experience level or potential impact on service time.
The prime concern for the 21-year-old Rodon at this point stands as nothing more than pitching.
"You are not worried about the ifs, ands or buts," said Sale, providing a recent piece of advice for Rodon. "It becomes a whirlwind just being in a different scenario in a different game. Professional baseball is different from college baseball. Your main focus is pitching and playing baseball.
"The biggest part is doing the same stuff you've done and not getting away from what got you where you are and throwing strikes. At any level, throwing strikes is the biggest part of pitching."