Carlos Rodon’s arrival a big deal — to White Sox
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Carlos Rodon’s major-league arrival Monday was a big, big deal to the White Sox. They view their prized left-handed pitching prospect, drafted No. 3 overall less than a year ago, as a budding top-of-the-rotation starter.
He has the stuff — two variations of a nasty, dark slider and a mid-90s fastball, as well as a developing changeup — that will make an All-Star out of you.
Like Kris Bryant with the Cubs, Rodon’s arrival was delayed at least in part to buy an extra year of service time. Bryant’s every move was watched, recorded and tweeted during his debut Friday at Wrigley Field. Rodon’s was much more sedate, which he had no objections to.
“Nah, I want to go under the radar,’’ he said.
Many Sox fans have only heard about Rodon since last season, so the buildup wasn’t as big as that for Bryant, a home-run-hitting machine who had been considered the No. 1 prospect in baseball. But if Rodon pitches like the Sox believe he will, there will be no avoiding the radar.
“Now is the time to get him here, get him facing big-league hitters, working with [pitching coach Don Cooper] and our guys here, in order to put him in the best position to succeed,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said.
Even though he was groomed as a starter during spring training and in two starts at Class AAA Charlotte before the call-up, Rodon will get acquainted with the majors as a reliever.
“We’re going to let him evolve,’’ Hahn said of his immediate role, which could call for facing one tough left-handed hitter or pitching multiple innings in relief.
Less than a year removed from college, Rodon won’t be asked to pitch 200 innings. Thus, the gradual transition to starting, which could come this season.
“We’re going to ease him into this,’’ Hahn said. “Again, his development’s not done. This is the next step and the most visible step and, ideally, the finishing step in his development.’’
His stuff is so good, though, and his command good enough right now that he made the Sox a better team Monday than they were Sunday.
The Sox brought Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale along through the bullpen, too. As for when Rodon gets through the bullpen and steps into the rotation, ‘‘There is no date on anyone’s calendar,’’ Hahn said. “We just know ultimately he’s going to wind up there.’’
Like any ordinary 22-year-old, Rodon was sitting around watching YouTube videos with his girlfriend and another friend when assistant general manager Buddy Bell called to tell him to pack his bags for Chicago.
His first call was to his parents, and the response from his dad was a reserved, “Wow, that’s great.”
“My dad’s a pretty even-keeled guy,’’ Rodon said. “He’s pretty calm just like me; he doesn’t blow things up.’’
Scott Boras, the agent for Bryant and Rodon, sees why Rodon’s arrival wasn’t blown up anything like Bryant’s. As a pitcher, Rodon is blending in, while Bryant barged in and batted cleanup in his debut.
“Kris Bryant hit 43 home runs at the highest level in the minor leagues and established that he’s ready to take on a full-time role in the big leagues,’’ said Boras, who attended the game Monday.
The Sox are handling Rodon perfectly, Boras said.
“You want to see the slow development,’’ Boras said. ‘‘You don’t want them throwing that many innings just out of college. There’s your difference.
“I was shocked when he [fell to third] in the draft. I told Rick, ‘You’re a lucky bleep-bleep.’ ’’
NOTES: To make room for Carlos Rodon and Jake Petricka (strained forearm), who was activated from the disabled list, the Sox put Javy Guerra on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 13) with shoulder inflammation and designated Kyle Drabek for assignment.
υ Charlotte infielder Carlos Sanchez was named International League Player of the Week.