Good afternoon baseball fans and prospect watchers. Here is Monday's edition of Baseball Prospect Notes. There were two key prospect promotions in the last 24 hours: the Chicago White Sox promoted Carlos Rodon to the majors and the New York Mets called up catcher Kevin Plawecki.
****So the White Sox are bringing up Carlos Rodon after two starts for Triple-A Charlotte. He pitched 10 innings in those two starts, posting a 13/4 K/BB with eight hits and four earned runs allowed. Word is that the White Sox will use him in the bullpen initially but it is just a matter of time before he gets some rotation innings. This is an issue of workload management and it seems the Sox will follow the Chris Sale development plan for getting Rodon's feet wet.
Jim Margalus at SouthSideSox has a nice Question/Answer summary in regards to Rodon. It includes some nifty GIFs of Rodon's killer slider, so take a good look at that. Here's another video of Rodon making Alcides Escobar look bad in spring training:
The thing I find most interesting about Rodon: a year ago, in the run-up to the 2014 MLB Draft, people were disappointed in him. He was the top arm available entering the draft season but his spring at North Carolina State wasn't as good as expected. That's pretty damn amazing: he posted a 2.00 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 99 innings and that was considered disappointing!
In fairness his velocity was down a little last spring, just in the low 90s rather than the mid/upper 90s, and there was some concern about overusing the slider. In pro ball he has regained his old fastball velocity and the White Sox have had him focus on using his fastball and change-up more often. Assuming he stays healthy and his command doesn't vanish, Rodon has everything needed to be a top of the rotation starter.
****The New York Mets are promoting Kevin Plawecki to cover for the injured Travis d'Arnaud. Jeffrey Paternostro at AmazinAvenue has a good breakdown on Plawecki's strengths and weaknesses.
Plawecki's main negative is his throwing. He's caught 28% of runners in his career, which isn't abysmal but isn't good either. However that number is just 12% in his 48 games of Triple-A experience with Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League, indicating that more advanced runners take advantage of him.
The throwing is obviously an issue but the rest of his defensive game is solid. He's reasonably athletic, receives well, has a reputation as a good field general and handler of pitchers, makes very few mental mistakes and gives up hardly any passed balls.
With the bat, Plawecki is a contact hitter with occasional power. He doesn't draw a huge number of walks but he doesn't chase many pitches outside the strike zone, either, and seems to have a good feel for how pitchers try to attack him. He's strong enough to hit for substantial power and can pull the ball a long way when he gets a hold of one, but generally his swing is tailored for line drives and gap shots rather than home runs. You can see this in his 2014 MLBfarm.com spray chart: note how the home runs are mostly to the pull side but other balls are scattered around the field.
Plawecki was a supplemental first round pick in 2012 out of Purdue and his advancement through the farm system has been fairly rapid, less than three years to make it to the Show. Although he doesn't project as a star, he should provide a decent batting average, occasional pop, and solid receiving ability. Even with the throwing troubles he can make a long career with that package of skills.