With the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Chicago White Sox selected Carlos Rodon out of North Carolina State. Rodon was a consideration for the top overall pick in the draft, but the Astros and Marlins each went with a high school arm in Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek. As the top college arm in the draft, Rodon came with high expectations and a presupposed shorter timetable for reaching the majors.
Sure enough, it didn’t take Rodon long to reach the majors. He was the second-fastest from the draft class to make his debut, trailing only Brandon Finnegan of the Royals (debuted in September of 2014). Rodon made his debut in 2015, along with other top-10 draft picks from 2014 like Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Aaron Nola of the Phillies, and Michael Conforto of the Mets. Rodon came out of the gate hot, going 9-6 in 23 starts with a 3.75 ERA/3.87 FIP.
Rodon has now played parts of five professional seasons with the White Sox, but he has yet to put together a complete campaign. All in all, he’s largely been a disappointment. For his career, he’s 29-31 with a 4.08 ERA/4.25 ERA with 8.8 K/9 versus 3.9 BB/9 across 529 innings. Rodon’s numbers fit comfortably at the back end of a rotation, but the White Sox hoped for much more out of Rodon.
Rodon’s track record cannot be separated from his injury history. A sprained wrist in 2016, biceps bursitis in 2017, shoulder inflammation when he returned in 2017 that bled into the 2018 season, and then Tommy John surgery that ended his 2019 season after just 7 starts. It’s been a rough road since making his debut.
Entering 2020, the 27-year-old Rodon is a legitimate afterthought. He’s lost velocity over the years, with his four-seamer peaking early in his career with a 94.2 mph average and dropping to 91.4 mph over his seven starts of 2019. He’s gone away from the sinker that was his trademark early on, relying more and more on a fastball-slider mix that profiles more like the repertoire of a late-inning reliever. As he returns from Tommy John surgery, it’s hard to know what kind of pitcher Rodon will be.
Because of the delay to the 2020 season, however, he will be healthy and ready to go when/if the seasons starts, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s good news for Rodon and the White Sox, though it’s unclear if there’s room for Rodon in the rotation. Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel are locked into the first two spots in the rotation. Gio Gonzalez was given a $5MM contract to do what Rodon hasn’t been able to: provide innings. For the other two rotation spots, Rodon will have to beat out a pair of young arms in Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease.
Lopez, 26, has taken his turn every fifth day for the last two seasons in Chicago, but the results haven’t been tremendous (4.64 ERA/4.83 FIP) – and he’s just a year younger than Rodon. Cease, 24, made his debut last year and struggled, but he remains a promising, hard-throwing righty. They’re slotted into the rotation for now, but there’s never been more uncertainty heading into a season than we face in 2020. Rodon could very well push for a rotation slot, but his future is no longer guaranteed. Michael Kopech could also join the fray, as Van Schouwen notes that the former Red Sox farmhand should be recovered from his own Tommy John surgery.
The fact is, the rotation is the biggest question mark of the White Sox roster heading into 2020 – despite the high-ceiling potential therein. Given the bizarre circumstances of the current climate, the bigger question is how much rope Chicago will give their young arms. With a shortened season and expanded playoffs, the White Sox have increased expectations. Fans will expect the Southsiders to join the crowded playoff field. To that end, the early games will matter like never before. A guy returning from injury like Rodon won’t have the leeway to round himself into shape. What’s worse, he might not have minor league games to provide that extra runway either.
If Rodon can come back as effective as pre-surgery, he won’t be the ace that some imagined, but he can hang in a rotation. Whether he’ll get that opportunity in Chicago is unclear. Injuries take their toll, and Rodon has been through the wringer. Whether through side sessions or spring training 2.0, Rodon will have to prove he’s ready to contribute.
If the season takes place, Rodon will have just one more season of arbitration eligibility before reaching free agency, and the White Sox will have to decide whether it’s worth giving him a raise on the $4.45MM (full-scale rate) he’s due in 2020. Rodon is still young enough to turn things around in Chicago, but the injuries are piling up, and time is running out.
I bet his stuff comes back with his recovery. I would take a shot on him if I was a GM that needed a mid rotation arm next year.
Hopefully he can become trade bait
Would be interested in the success rate of taking the “top college arm”.
Better than High school ones. The top 2 picks before him haven’t reach the majors and don’t think they’re anywhere close.
When Rodon has been ‘on’ he has lights out stuff, but when he is bad he is bad. Hopefully the latter was due to injuries not seen or him trying to play trough, otherwise it is what it is. Like you said considering the other players before him are not even discussed much I fail to see the need to focus on solely on Rodon here.
I think the floor for Rodon is what he is when everyone projected him. The ceiling would be Chris Sale type level. Picking a pitcher that makes it to the majors I fail to see as a failure in general. I hope he gets healthy. Plus he’s only 27. That means he still technically just reaching him prime years.
@iang——you literally typed that Rodon’s ceiling is Chris Sale type……you must mean Chris Sale now with Tommy John…..not the Chris Sale that is a seven time all star, top five Cy Young voting on six different occasions, right? That has to be one of the most unfair comparisons of all time. If Rodon gets to about 60-70% of what Jose Quintana was for the White Sox, I’m thinking the organization would be satisfied the next few seasons.
Chris Sale was a top five pitcher in the game and when traded brought back some very integral pieces to the team.
Exactly. Saying his ceiling is Sale-level is basically saying he has no ceiling, if prime Sale is the comparison.
Pretty sure Rodon has had some of the worst framers in baseball last few years. Grandal could be his savior.
While I do not think Rodon is a bad pitcher, a bad pitcher is a bad pitcher. An excuse of not having a ‘good pitch framer’ is just that, an excuse.
yeah, bad pitch framing really cant skew a SP’s numbers over several years. eventually the cream rises to the top.
Pitch framing doesn’t make him a better pitcher. It just means his true flaws are covered up.
Then Giolito will become a Top 3 pitcher in the MLB? Framing does help but savior might be a bit hyperbolic. If anything grandal might be able to provide a better game day approach to a lineup, but execution is all on Rodon. With that said, I think Rodon can’t be written off yet and hopefully he finds the consistency he’s been lacking the last few years
Still the right pick. Sox couldn’t have known he wouldn’t be as vigilant with his conditioning as he should.have.
Best we can hope for is he comes back as a back of the rotation guy.
I agree. At the time of the draft, he was the best player available. I was surprised he fell to the Sox at #3.
oh come on. Nola obviously was better. command, as an example, has never been something Rodon has cared for. Nola came up throwing strikes. And the talent from Nola was obvious. Meaning he was better
Context is everything. It’s a fallacy to say that he did t live up to expectations. Other than Matt Chapman, no one has been a verified mlb monster from that draft class. So if no one has been an ace frontline starter, is it really a waste? He’s still relevant and that seems like a win…
Nola has largely pitched like an ace.
He has obviously been good, but “largely pitched like an ace” is a stretch.
nola was drafted 4 picks later
and didn’t he also have to fight through injuries as well (and has not always had a sparkling performance record)?
Nola had one injury of note like 3-4 seasons ago. That said, he hasnt been a slam dunk superstar
Last cpl seasons say otherwise
It isn’t a fallacy that he didn’t live up to expectations. Just because other players from his draft have disappointed doesn’t mean he didn’t reach his potential. It wasn’t a terrible draft pick but it is a disappointment based on what people thought 5 years ago
..As for the remark about the Sox rotation being a question mark.. Lets face it, The rotation for EVERY team should be a question mark. Injuries happen, even to guys thought to be a ‘bulletproof’. Same thing with performance, you have guys thought of as being super good to fall of the rails. Just like every bullpen. The league is filled with ‘what ifs’ and ‘could be’s’.
its relatively a question mark is what that statement means
the mike carter
Kind of harsh but true. I think he can still be a solid three with health.
I would love to see the Sox use Rodon as a late inning reliever. He can get out both rightnes and lefties, and coming out of the pen might for an inning or two three times a week might also help him avoid the injuries.
His slider at its peak is too nasty not be a bullpen arm at the very least. Especially a team like Milwaukee or Tampa Bay that have implemented unique pitching systems that rely heavily on bullpen arms, he can give you 3-4 innings pretty easily i think if not a full 5. It’s more so a question of what his fastball looks like coming back. His command was questionable pre=injury and was susceptible to getting hit pretty hard. His heat will make or break the rest of his career most likely.
Maybe the White Sox just aren’t good at developing pitchers? Sale was obviously a huge success and I’m not discounting that, but Lopez and Rodon have underwhelmed, Fulmer is a bust, and even Giolito struggled for a while before he broke out. Kopech could help answer that one way or the other though.
i mean Lopez and Gio came up with the Nats. im pretty sure minors years are supposed to be where most of the “development” is happening. in the Majors ita more just polish.
In their cases, I meant that they haven’t been able to develop Lopez from a good prospect into a good major leaguer. It took a while with Giolito too. But I get what you mean.
Prospects flame out all the time, so you could make the case that that’s what’s happening. But this also isn’t an isolated occurrence, so when it happens this often it just might be the team’s fault.
I’ve really wondered about the effectiveness of Don Cooper (Sox pitching coach) for awhile. I think he is losing his grasp on the game
Same. It would seem blasphemous to make this claim 3-4 years ago, but I just think his teachings and approach are a little too old-fashioned for this new generation of young players. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit of a Rodon signed with a team such as Tampa, Milwaukee, or even Miami and had a good deal of success as a sub-4.00 ERA mid-rotation arm.
I could even see him being successful if used similarly to how the Brewers used Hader out of the pen when he first broke in. I think Reynaldo Lopez is another that would do very well with a change of scenery but he’s shown flashes of looking great more than a few times. Rey-Lo needs to figure out how to get it together in the first half of a season.
2014 was a terrible draft. Rodon doesn’t even look like that bad of a pick even now
No it wasn’t. It’s only been 6 years ago and there are already 5 players from the 1st round with a career WAR of over 10 to date. Matt Chapman, Aaron Nola, Trea Turner, Michael Conforto, and Kyle Freeland. By comparison, 2013 only has 3 and 2015 only has 1. To put that into historical context, here is the number of 1st rounders over 10 from 1997-2006.
1997 – 8
1998 – 12
1999 – 8
2000 – 5
2001 – 6
2002 – 11
2003 – 8
2004 – 8
2005 – 14
2006 – 7
I chose that range because most of those careers are either over completely or are good enough that they are already over 10.
Jack Flaherty should join that group soon and so will Rodon and Schwarber with just another good year or two. And there are several others that are just really getting started that could break out as well like Michael Chavis and Luke Weaver. For that matter, there is still a chance for players that are still in the minors like Nick Gordon to break out too. You might not have a Hall of Famer in the draft, but there are some solid MLB players,
Just because the top of the draft hasn’t worked out well, does not mean it was a terrible draft. 2014 will not go down as a great draft like 1998, 2002 or 2005 by any means, but it’s not terrible either. It’s about average.
And how many of the good players were actually supposed to go in say the top 10. Matt Chapman is the best player for the draft but no one had him going that high. Fact is that draft was a mine field with some good players spawning later in the 1st.
Numbers are good the wins vs losses suck because the White Sox suck
ERA north of 4 every year, WHIP north of 1.3. Can’t stay on the field. Looking past the bad white sox teams, he has been mediocre at best
None of those top 3 turned out any good.
Rodon doesn’t belong in any conversation with Kolek and Aiken. At least he has made it to the majors and provided some value while both Kolek and Aiken are flaming out in A ball. I just took a look at their stats over the years, and they are laughably bad. Kolek had 27 walks in 13.2 innings last year. Aiken had 6 in 0.2 innings. Neither can pitch effectively (even in A-ball) or stay healthy.
Rodon was sidetracked by injuries(like ALOT of pitchers) When healthy this guy was pretty filthy, much better than ACTUAL disappointments like Aiken/Kolek and many, MANY other Pitchers who get injured before even making their mark(Danny Hultzen, another college LHP, jumps to mind as a M’s fan) 4.08 in 529IP is fairly respectable in the AL playing for a bad team year in and year out! This guy can still help a team if he can get back to the 94-mph range…I’ll be rooting for him! 😉
The more options the better off the staff will be. The Sox have done a decent job of having 6-8 guys that can start which is needed these days. Giving up on Rodon at 27 coming off TJ would be foolish. I like where this team is headed.
Wonder if the cards could get him for somebody like ponce deleon. If rodon doesnt come back strong as a starter he could be a weapon in the bullpen. Ponce wont get his chance to start with the cards and could be pretty good for the sox, and rodon could be a very good bullpen piece for the birds
Sounds like most of the top picks n that draft were complete bust in being picked that high.
He’s still fairly young, def tons better than the picks above him
giving up on Rondon ao quickly? i dont think he has had a good chance to show his true stuff yet. I predict big things frol him in 2021.
I sorta agree, but I think we have a good idea what he is. He might be a slight tick better if he says healthy… but he’s no superstar.
Aiken and Kolek crashed and burned so hard.
No down. Not much mention of them here. Redon looks like a superstar if you compare him to those guys lol
For how injury prone he is it’s amazing he’s thrown 529 innings.
Gosh, trade Redon but of the top 3 picks, seems like he’s the only one to do anything slightly meaningful in the pros. Albeit not amazing, he’s not a complete train wreck either. Clearly based on that drafts top picks, it could have been much worse
Rodon still has a ton of upside. He is a K machine when he’s on. Durability is his issue. Worst case scenario he would be a terrific closer.
I still got faith in him.
They’ll lose 90 next season.
I’d like to see Rodon get one more shot to prove himself. I’d hope after TJ that the injury bug is behind him. Seems to have great stuff when he’s on and in the groove. I’m sure when he does comeback, it will take some time to to reCoop his craft, but I believe he could still be an asset to the Wsox.
I really thought Rodon’s stash was something special. Made him look like a porn movie star.
Very disappointed he was hurt at the beginning of 2019. His comeback year was delayed right when we needed him the most.
The team when Rodon was drafted and the team the White Sox are now are completely different. I expect Carlos to arrive at the station right on time.
I said it before and will say it again. The guy could probably do well in long relief or serve as the primary pitcher in an opener situation. He’s got the stuff to do it. He would be good for spots starts as well.
Sox failed to do their homework on Rodon who was already on the decline coming out of college – a victim of win-at-all-costs programs.
I can still hear the sound of the champagne corks popping from Clark and Addison when the august Reinsdorf senior management chose Rodon over Schwarber who could have been their DH for at least 15 years.
The Sox are gonna kill the tanking to success theory that the Astros and Cubs began.
Except schwarber wasnt even considered a top 10 or 15 pick when the Cubs drafted him. He was a major reach and a head scratcher pick considering he was ranked the 16,17,and 26th best prospect by major publications. Also you don’t draft a DH #3 overall either.
Chi Town Hype
Rodon is just getting started! Hes only 27 years old. He missed over 3 years because of surgeries. The TJ surgery really set him back. BUT i would bet that he breaks into the rotation. Rodon is more talented then Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez has been healthy for the most part. But Rodon could be a 1 starter with the stuff he has. (Giolito,Kuechel,Cease, Kopech, Rodon) I think the sox will eventually cut ties with Gio Gonzalez. They only signed him to a one year deal. I also think Lopez will still struggle with his control and is better suited in the Bullpen. He would be a good fit there. Maybe in a couple years or when someone gets injured Lopez can be a good replacement. We dont exactly know how Dallas Kuechel will pan put either. Keeping Rodom should be a Priority!
Agreed dudes a beast when healthy. He’s got the mental toughness as well. If he can stay healthy, crack into this short season rotation and hopefully playoffs he can prove his worth. Don’t lose faith in Lopez…. He has 2 full years experience under his belt now and great stuff.. Just has to to put it all together. Lucas was a bust and afterthought according to the critics coming into last year and had the same makeup as Lopez. Too many guys are given up on too quickly nowadays. Just have to know when the right time to dump them is ( See Chris Sale). Go Sox! 2021 World Champs (hopefully through a normal regular season and playoffs)
Rodon flat out dominated hitters when he returned from injury in 2018. For a span between July & Aug he seemed unhittable. It might have been too much too soon as soreness came back in Sept. That month was still good enough for a 1-2 pitcher slot but some starts now look like a foreshadowing of what happened in 2019.
The White Sox always carried the expectation that Rodon would be an ace & that led to mis-diagnosing his injuries. They were looking for ways to explain it as routine soreness & framed it like he would only miss a handful of starts. That all ended in 2019 with his TJ surgery.
Hit the reset button on his injury history. If he shows added velocity over 2018 in July, he will get a rotation spot over Lopez & Cease. You can bet on that. Expect him to dominate hitters again. When it’s working, Rodon’s slider compares with Randy Johnson’s. His fastball is almost always better than Buerhle’s, & his sinker is as good as Garland’s.
Simply put, when he’s healthy with little to no arm soreness Rodon is one of the best
southpaws in the game. If you doubt that, extract the last 4 starts prior to an injury period from each of his seasons & look at the remaining numbers.
Do you remember 2005 & how important the Contreras deal was to it’s success?
Rodon’s return from TJS could have an even greater impact this season.