After a spectacular collegiate career at NC State, left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon was rewarded Thursday as the White Sox made him the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
MLB reported the pick:
Rodon was tabbed as a likely high pick last year, and he certainly didn't do anything to damage his draft stock in 2013, as he enjoyed his best statistical season at NC State.
Although his record of 6-7 looks poor on the surface, Rodon simply wasn't the beneficiary of much run support in 2014. The peripheral numbers definitely stand out, though, as Rodon posted a 2.01 ERA and struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings.
Those dominant numbers allowed Rodon to become the first NC State starting pitcher to ever earn three All-ACC first-team nods, according to the team's official Twitter account:
Correction: All-ACC release. @CarlosRodon16 7th NCSU three-time All-ACC first teamer, second pitcher, first starting pitcher (Joey Devine)— NC State Baseball (@NCStateBaseball) May 19, 2014
Despite that, it was unclear leading up to the draft if Rodon had done enough to separate himself from immensely talented high school pitchers Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek. Rodon may be the more polished and MLB-ready pitcher, but it is possible that Aiken and Kolek have higher ceilings.
Even so, multiple sources told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com prior to the draft that the Houston Astros preferred Rodon over the high schoolers:
3 execs suggest nc st. lhp carlos rodon still likely No. 1 pick in mlb draft. hs lhp aiken, hs rhp kolek other contenders.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 13, 2014
With Rodon's status very much up in the air, he came through with one of his best performances of the year. It just so happens that it occurred in front of a couple of very important people in the form of the Astros' and Miami Marlins' general managers, per MLB insider Peter Gammons:
Carlos Rodon's 7 4 1 0 1 9 Friday vs. Wake Forest was in front of Jeff Luhnow and Dan Jennings— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) May 10, 2014
On the heels of that showing, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America got the impression that Rodon solidified his spot atop the draft:
Heard from one of the many national scouting heavyweights on hand at NC State last night that Carlos Rodon was lights out & "cemented No. 1"— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) May 10, 2014
Fitt has also been one of Rodon's biggest supporters publicly, as he recently lauded the southpaw's resume and overall makeup, according to Aaron Beard of the Associated Press, via The New Orleans Advocate:
You can nitpick and find things to complain about if you want. The fact of the matter is, he's left-handed. He's got the best pitch in college baseball with his slider. He's got an incredible track record of success and big-game success. He's incredibly fierce and competitive. All that stuff is in place.
There is no such thing as a guaranteed star in the MLB draft since it is so difficult to project several years into the future. In terms of safe picks, though, Rodon would seem to be the closest thing to that in this draft.
How will Rodon fare in Major League Baseball?
He probably won't need a ton of seasoning in the minors since he already has good size and an excellent repertoire. That doesn't mean he is ready to step in right away or even get called up in 2015, but the learning curve shouldn't be as steep for him as it might be for other prospects.
Rodon is no one-year wonder, as he was a star throughout his collegiate and high school career. Though not as young as some of the other top prospects in this draft, he still clearly has a very bright future ahead of him at just 21 years of age.
It seems as though great pitching has been the hallmark of every World Series championship team in recent memory, and Rodon has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation ace down the line.
Rodon has had success at every level thus far, and there is no reason to believe that will change when he eventually makes the jump to the big leagues.
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