September 30, 2014
ANAHEIM, Calif. — In selecting North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon with the third overall pick in the amateur draft Thursday, the White Sox got the guy almost everyone viewed as the best prospect at any position going into the season. His stock slipped only by a shade but not enough to keep him from being regarded as the pitcher mostly likely to first reach the major leagues.
Rodon could follow in Sox ace Chris Sale’s footsteps. In 2010, Sale was drafted in the first round and brought up to pitch in relief in August and September.
Rodon, 21, has the package to do it. His slider is as good if not better than any pitch possessed by a pitcher in this draft.
“When you can bury a slider on the back foot of a right-handed hitter and get it under his hands, you know a guy has a really good one,’’ scouting director Doug Laumann said. “It’s certainly a dominant pitch, and that’s not to take anything away from his fastball and changeup, which are plus pitches.’’
After an exceptional summer with USA Baseball, Rodon went 6-7 with a 2.01 ERA in his junior season this spring, striking out 117 in 982/3 innings. Nonetheless, Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who watched video of the top pitching prospects, said Rodon was closer to being major-league-ready than any pitcher in the draft and suggested he could do what Sale did four years ago.
“It would probably be unfair to put anybody on that track, but we think he’s an extremely talented pitcher, and with the type of fastball and slider he has, he certainly could be a guy on a so-called fast track,’’ Laumann said.
According to Baseball America draft expert John Manuel, “Even when he’s not at his best, Rodon shows scouts a fastball/slider combination that could fit in a big-league bullpen now.’’
Rodon’s slider has been called the toughest pitch to hit in the draft, but its increased use contributed to his stock slipping somewhat. He also had several 120-pitch outings his senior year, including one at 134, causing some to raise mild concerns about heavy use.
“We’re not concerned about that,’’ Laumann said.
The Sox picked in the top five for the first time since Alex Fernandez was drafted fourth in 1990. Rodon is represented by agent Scott Boras, with whom the Sox have had a cool relationship, but Laumann was not overly concerned about Rodon’s signability.
“It’s our goal to get the most talented player available, and [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and Scott Boras have a fairly good relationship,’’ Laumann said. “We’re excited because No. 1, we know how competitive this kid is and how important it is for him to be comfortable with an organization. We’re real confident we’re going to get him done. I’d be surprised if that doesn’t happen.”
High school pitchers went first and second before Rodon. The Astros took lefty Brady Aiken from San Diego and the Marlins took right-hander Tyler Kolek from Shepherd, Texas. Most projections had Aiken going No. 1.
“Carlos was pretty much the consensus guy we had targeted since his sophomore season,’’ said Laumann, who has scouted Rodon since his senior year in high school in Holly Springs, North Carolina. “We were pleased that he was there.
“The thing that was most impressive about him was that on the biggest international stage against Cuba, he threw as well as anybody could have in that setting. He maybe didn’t have the really dominant year we kind of expected, but you have to consider the history you have. This isn’t a one-month or one-year process. We thought he was the consensus best guy on the board.’’
White Sox take RHP Spencer Adams in 2nd round
The White Sox selected 6-5, 190-pound right-hander Spencer Adams of White County (Ga.) High School with their second-round pick. Projected as a late first-rounder, Adams has a low-to-mid 90s fastball. A three-sport athlete with a loose and easy delivery, Adams’ long, lean build leaves room for growth and improved strength as he focuses on one sport.
Adams struck out 90 in 52 innings during his senior season. Scouts say he possesses a good slider and also throws a curveball and changeup.