Player: Carlos Rodon
Drafted by: White Sox, Round 1, Pick 3
DOB: 12/10/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 234 lbs
School: North Carolina State
Previously Drafted: 16th round, 2011 (Brewers)
Nobody in college baseball has been better over the last three seasons than Carlos Rodon. And now, after a historically good career at N.C. State, the left-hander is finally ready to enter the professional ranks.
A 16th-round selection by the Brewers in 2011 out of high school, Rodon has been viewed as the favorite to be this year’s No. 1-overall pick basically since setting foot on campus. In 2012 the left-hander became the first freshman in conference history to win the ACC Pitcher of the Year award after posting a 1.57 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 135 strikeouts in 114.2 innings (16 starts). His remarkable season also led to him being named Louisville Sluggers’ National Freshman of the Year.
Rodon was even more impressive as a sophomore, as the then-20-year-old made 19 starts and pitched to a 2.99 ERA with 184 strikeouts (a new school record and the most among Division I hurlers) in 132.1 innings (12.51 K/9). Perhaps more significantly, he helped guide the Wolfpack to their first College World Series appearance since 1968. Following the season, the southpaw was recognized as USA Baseball’s Player of the Year. Rodon also spent parts of the last two summers pitching for the Team USA Collegiate Team, allowing a combined three earned runs over 36 total innings.
However, Rodon wasn’t as consistent or dominant this spring as he was in previous years; the 21-year-old finished the season with an excellent 2.01 ERA and dropped his BB/9 below 3.00, but he also posted career-worsts with a 1.17 WHIP and 7.66 H/9.
The greatest concern to emerge from Rodon’s junior campaign had more to do with his workload than the slight statistical regression, as he twice threw more than 130 pitches in a game toward the end of the season and eclipsed 100 pitches in a majority of his starts.
Teams considering Rodon for one of the top first-round picks have every right to question his health and durability. However, unless a previously undisclosed (or unknown) injury is revealed prior to the draft, it will be nearly impossible for them to disregard his three-year track record of sheer dominance and potential to pitch at the front of a big-league rotation in short order.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Physically mature frame at 6’3”, 234 pounds that requires minimal projection; clean, compact delivery; good trunk rotation and use of lower half; arm action is quick and relatively smooth, though it also can appear heavy at times when his release point is off; heavy use of slider and high pitch counts as the Wolfpack ace raise concern about future arm/elbow injury; has proved to be durable during college career, with some minor back issues representing the only blemishes in his medical history.
Sits 93-96 mph when he’s at his best, touched 97-98 mph in the past; velocity was down early in the spring but returned in late April; holds velo deep into games; confidently attacks both sides of the plate; gets into trouble when he’s not locating the pitch down in the zone.
Biggest weapon in his arsenal that could be elite at maturity; legitimate swing-and-miss offering at 85-87 mph; knows how to add/subtract with pitch; throws with excellent depth with late, devastating break; effective against right- and left-handed hitters; can rely on pitch too much at times, especially when the fastball command is off; can become predictable when pitching off slider.
Least–developed pitch in his arsenal due to dominance of fastball and slider; velocity ranges anywhere from 80-84 mph; can flash above-average potential with occasional fading action but generally lacks significant movement; development of pitch should come naturally in the minor leagues and could potentially determine whether he reaches ceiling of an ace.
Consistently around the plate; attacks all quadrants of the strike zone with fastball and slider when he’s on; understands how to changes hitters’ eye levels; exhibits more consistent command of slider than fastball; will need to throw more quality strikes as a professional.
MLB Player Comparison: David Price
Projection: No. 1 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2015
Chances of Signing: 99 percent
Rodon has been regarded as the probable No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft since his historically good freshman season. While his stock has fluctuated a bit this spring, the left-hander is a lock to sign after he comes off the board within the first three picks.