In the wake of the 2014 MLB draft, several franchises came away with a crop of players they hope will materialize in the coming years. That goes for every team, but not all will be so lucky.
Players like Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek, the No. 1 and 2 overall picks, respectively, will obviously take a while before they get the call-up coming straight from high school. But for several other players who are more polished, the coming months could bring a promotion they've dreamed of their entire lives.
In recent years, players like Chris Sale and David Price both saw a rapid rise to the majors and even worked out of the bullpen during their debut campaigns. Many of the top college players will be expected to work their way up through the system, but not all will reach the MLB as fast as others.
With the entire draft having come to a close, let's take a look at some of the prospects who will see a rapid ascent to the majors.
Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox
For nearly a year, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Carlos Rodon would go No. 1 overall to the Houston Astros. After Aiken's stellar season, the high school pitcher eventually overtook the college ace.
That decision might just work out perfectly for Rodon. Rather than waiting around until the Astros would be competitive enough to finally call him up, the former N.C. State pitcher now joins the farm system of a team working to earn a potential wild-card spot in the American League.
Not to mention, he also joins a team that already has an established ace, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes:
Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon. American League Central teams better load up on right-handed hitters. That is going to be a stacked rotation.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 5, 2014
Much like Sale, who pitched a total of 10.1 innings before receiving the call in 2010, Rodon could find himself as a member of the bullpen before season's end.
The key here is obviously that Rodon must sign rather quickly—something that general manager Rick Hahn believes will happen soon, per CSNChicago.com Insider Dan Hayes (via HardballTalk). As for living up to expectations of the high-pick status, Rodon isn't worried about that, per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune:
"That comes with the talent," Rodon said. "The expectations come with all that, when you're a good player. You have to expect it yourself. All eyes are watching, and you're going to get criticized every little thing you do wrong. That's part of it, and you have to love it and hate it."
After watching Rodon for the last several seasons, he's an elite pitcher with a plus-fastball and slider. While the pitch count was usually high, it was simply because he typically forced Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent to keep him in games due to his competitive nature.
If he makes it to the MLB ranks this season, he'll be a bulldog coming out of the bullpen for Chicago. As for the future, the one-two punch of Sale and Rodon for the White Sox might be the best in the AL Central in the next few years—they're that good.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Minnesota Twins
He might not have been taken as high as some others on this list, but Nick Burdi has the stuff to quickly rise through the Minnesota Twins system.
His fastball touches 100 mph, and he had a miniscule 0.54 ERA as a closer for Louisville heading into the draft. Despite being taken in the second round on the first night of the MLB draft, Burdi told Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal, "They're getting one of the most determined people in the whole draft. I'm not upset. I'm pissed now. I'm ready to play."
Needless to say, he was none too happy to slide that far. While Rodon has a career as a starter ahead of him, Burdi's bread and butter will likely be as a relief pitcher and eventually a closer at the MLB level.
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell spoke about what type of player the Twins are getting, per Greer:
I said, "Nick, for 22 years, I've been dealing with the draft. It's not an exact science." I've told the kids for years not to let someone define who you are. ... He has a right to be (pissed). He's gonna pitch in the big leagues this summer.
Sometimes playing with a chip on your shoulder is a good thing. ... He wants to be great. He wants to be a big leaguer.
After taking Burdi in the 24th round back in the 2011 draft, the Twins might finally be able to sign him following the Cardinals' College World Series run. If he comes in and shines right away, he could meet a similar fate as Rodon this season.
If he doesn't immediately earn the call, expect him to be a setup pitcher for years to come in Minnesota.
Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Who will make it to the MLB first?
Outside of Rodon, Aaron Nola came into the 2014 draft as the most polished pitching prospect in the class.
The LSU ace was stellar all season and possesses a good fastball, a great slider and a devastating changeup as his out pitch. With all of those in his repertoire, Nola has a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training next season.
MLB.com provides a scouting report on the 21-year-old starter:
Nola isn't physical or overpowering, but he has exquisite command of his three-pitch arsenal. He effortlessly works at 91-93 mph with his fastball, which plays up because his low three-quarters arm slot produces sink and he can locate the pitch wherever he wants. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, grading as plus at times, and he can throw his three-quarters breaking ball for strikes.
With an advanced arm and outstanding control, Nola will quickly find his way to the majors in the coming seasons. For a Philadelphia Phillies team that likely won't be competing for a playoff spot at the end of the season, look for Nola to to make his impact in 2015 as he skips over some of the lower rungs.
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