Carlos Rodon attacked the zone on Wednesday night, in his second High-A start of the season, walking just one batter while striking out seven. The NC State alum did a good job of hiding the baseball using a motion that imposes a violent delivery and tree trunks for legs to push off with.
Living on the outside third of the plate most of the night, Rodon relied mostly on a low-90's fastball which tailed away from right-handed hitters. The Cuban-American warmed up in the third inning touching 97 mph, but seemed to perform at his best around 92 mph when he could control his pitches while enducing the most movement.
Rodon couples his speed with a backdoor slider that can move a good 4-to-6 inches on a single plane. The slider was typically an out pitch, but he also seemed to use it as his security blanket when everything else was staying outside the zone. In this outing the lefty threw the change sparingly, mostly as an out pitch, such as in the first inning when he struck out Will Skinner swinging to end the inning.
The changeup is a pitch Rodon's been working on the most as he revealed to Dan Hayes of NBC Sports.
"I've had to make a couple of adjustments to pro ball as far as pitching and pitch sequences," Rodon said. "I understand now that anyone can hit a fastball and I have to use those offspeed pitches to compliment the fastball. I've been relying heavily on the changeup recently and it's working out pretty good for me."
Out after 61 pitches and an unearned run scored on a passed ball. His night ended after a filthy three-pitch strikeout that included a backside slider that snuck into the zone, a change with some drop and another outside slider down in the dirt. Rodon's final line included three hits allowed, with one unearned run, one walk and seven strikeouts in 3.2 inning. The outing lowered his High-A ERA to 1.86 on the season.
Entering the 2014 draft, Rodon was one of the highest rated amateur pitchers and ranked No. 1 overall by Baseball America. Esteemed for a 97 mph fastball and a wipeout slider, many teams placed him at the top of the food chain of pitching talent prior to the season.
Bouts with velocity loss and a third pitch which failed to develop affected perception of the left-hander, perhaps contributing to why a pair of teams passed on him in the draft. Other doubts surrounding Rodon included if he could maintain velocity going into the later innings and if he was relying too much on his 70-grade slider.
Rodon was selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, a position with a recommended slot bonus of $5.72 million. Represented by Scott Boras, the lefty was expected to sign for much more, and did so at price of $6.58 million. The bonus was the largest in the 2014 draft and one of the highest in Chicago White Sox history. Watch for more on Carlos Rodon later in the week, when I'll include photos and an interview from tonight's action.