The Road to Rodon could pass through Chicago as early as next month.
Rodon has only pitched nine innings in five games for the White Sox in the minors — in the Arizona League and at Winston Salem — since being drafted in June, but like Chris Sale before him, he could be on the fast track to Chicago. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that there’s a “better than average” chance Rodon could be on the roster come September when they expand.
There’s a better-than-average chance that Rodon could follow the Chris Sale development path from 2010 and pitch in the Majors during the same season in which he was drafted. But that potential path for the White Sox top-rated prospect does not fall under the category of current concerns for manager Robin Ventura.
“I’m not even going down that far,” Ventura said. “We are concerned about what’s going on right here. If they say he’s pitching well enough to come up, then the more the merrier at this point.”
Any addition of Rodon most likely would come when rosters expand in September. He also would work out of the bullpen, as he has done for the Dash and with the Arizona Rookie League White Sox, to manage his workload. He has thrown five total innings in his last two outings, on Thursday and on Aug. 3.
Now, here’s the thing that I don’t know for sure. Merkin says that there’s a better than average chance, but what isn’t clear is whether or not he has been told this, or if he’s just speculating based on how the White Sox handled Chris Sale. Personally I don’t think Rick Hahn is saying that publicly just yet, though when Rodon was drafted it was made clear to him that he could reach the bigs sooner rather than later with the White Sox.
I just don’t know how I feel about the idea.
As a White Sox fan, hell yes I want Rodon up in September. The White Sox aren’t going to be competing for anything at that point — they aren’t now — and Rodon would give me just another reason to keep watching with interest. He’s the top prospect in the Sox system, and I want to see what he can do against big league hitters. He’d basically be to White Sox fans what Javier Baez has been to Cubs fans this week.
But then there are the other factors.
Now, with Scott Boras as his agent, the odds of Rodon signing a team friendly extension like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are about the same as the White Sox offering you or I that same contract. It’s just not going to happen. So if Rodon comes to Chicago in September that starts the clock on his service time, and that mean’s he’ll be a free agent sooner rather than later. Now, if the plan is to have Rodon on the roster to open next season, the September call-up won’t really affect his free agent clock. So while it’s a concern, it’s not exactly a big one, because I do believe the White Sox would love to start the 2015 season with Sale, Quintana and Rodon all in the rotation (as well as both Max Scherzer and James Shields whom the White Sox sign this winter in one of my fever dreams).
My bigger concern is that I just don’t know if Rodon is ready right now. He didn’t throw nearly as many innings at NC State this season as last, but he’s worked, and a part of me wonders if a break isn’t what’s best for him as he prepares to make the team next spring. I mean, it’s a big step up from the ACC to the American League, and it’s not like Rodon is currently lighting it up in the minors.
Yes, he’s struck out 13 batters in only nine innings, but he’s also walked eight and has allowed four runs. The walks are more concerning than the runs, but even so, I fully admit there’s nothing there that’s truly worrisome. Plus, this could all be a product of the time off from the end of the college season, and Rodon is just finding his way again.
But I’d rather he continued to find his way in Winston Salem than Chicago if that’s going to be the case. I’m worried that if he comes to Chicago and gets rocked it could affect his mental state heading into next spring, and then he’s thinking about things he needs to change or do differently instead of just relying on what made him the third pick in the draft to begin with.
I don’t know, it’s possible I’m worrying too much about this because I have such high expectations for Rodon. I do know that I’m happy this is a problem I have to worry about, though.
As for what’s going to actually happen, well, I guess we’ll just have to wait until next month to find out.
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