For a first round pitching prospect chosen by an organization that prides itself in developing young arms, Carlos Rodon has been less than impressive. In his two seasons he’s produced a 3.90 ERA and an even higher FIP of 3.95 to go along with a mediocre 2.46 K/BB ratio. Last year his walks were down and strikeouts were up but he was getting hit much harder, giving up over twice as many home runs.
But who can really say this is what Carlos Rodon is? He was rushed to the Bigs, which is not an uncommon practice in the White Sox organization. Chris Sale was rushed too, the difference being he’s a freak of nature who was more polished than Rodon. Now the big lefty from NC State has an opportunity to take over Sale’s role. With the lanky starter gone and Jose Quintana on his way out, Rodon finds himself in a pretty advantageous position.
Sure, he won’t exactly be headlining the starting rotation of a World Series contender. I’d say he has the keys to the kingdom but right now it’s more like the keys to a 1998 Chevy Impala. However, Chicago has had another young leader emerge from the ashes of a rebuilding process. He plays first base on the North Side. Anthony Rizzo has the presence of a veteran but is really just a kid himself, likely because he’s seen so many young stars join his club and lived through the rough years of losing games being more beneficial than winning them.
Like Rizzo, Rodon will have to endure some tough years while dramatically improving his craft. Maybe taking a step back and not worrying about winning is exactly what the doctor ordered for his development. That’s what most prospects get in the minors, a place where Rodon only accumulated 38 innings. A low-pressure environment where they can be hyper-focused on how to get better. Doing so would force the White Sox to think about locking him in to a team-friendly long term deal, similar to a Sale/Quintana situation since Rodon heads to arbitration in 2018. Though with Scott Boras representing him, I doubt such an offer would be accepted.
If he’s going to be the ace of the White Sox for years to come, he’ll not only need to put up stellar numbers this season but fend off even younger arms. I would like to think he views himself at the top of the rotation for years to come. After all, that’s what starting pitchers taken with the third overall pick are supposed to be.