MINNEAPOLIS — Rick Hahn wanted to make it clear Tuesday: even though Carlos Rodon isn’t in the majors, the White Sox are ecstatic about his progress.
In somewhat of a surprise, Rodon didn’t receive a promotion to the big leagues for the final month of the 2014 season.
Instead of joining the White Sox at Target Field, Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick in June’s amateur draft is headed home for the offseason. Pleased as they have been with Rodon’s six-week ascent from the Arizona Rookie League to Triple-A, the White Sox didn’t see a major league promotion as the best course of action for their prized possession.
But even though he won’t make his debut this month, that doesn’t rule Rodon — who signed a franchise-record $6.582-million bonus on July 11 — out for next season, Hahn said.
“We are absolutely thrilled with where he is and how quickly he has progressed through the system,” Hahn said. “Fundamentally the decision came down to it just wasn’t the right time in his development to bring him to the big leagues to continue his development here and ask him to get big league hitters out. He has responded to all the challenges we’ve put in front of him. We’re very pleased with how he’s finished up his first several weeks as a pro and we fully expect him to come to big league camp next year and compete for a spot on the 2015 White Sox, that’s how far along he is in his development.”
Rodon has been electric at all three stops starting with his Arizona Rookie League debut on July 22. Hahn said Rodon exceeded the club’s expectations whether in Arizona, Single-A Winston-Salem or Triple-A Charlotte.
He has 38 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings between the three stops pitching both out of the bullpen and in the rotation.
But the White Sox wondered about whether or not pitching in an undefined role in the majors would harm or help Rodon. They also want to make sure he’s completely ready and mentioned his fastball command could be improved a little after Rodon walked 13 batters.
Catcher Josh Phegley cited consistency with fastball command as the one area Rodon might need to strengthen but also came away impressed with how humble and polished the left-hander is already.
“When he gets in a little bit of a rut, he errs on the side of trying harder,” Phegley said. “He’s a go-getter and you always want to see that. The effort level is always going to be there.”
The stuff is also present, Phegley said.
Triple-A hitters didn’t “sniff” Rodon’s slider, Phegley said, and his changeup is polished, following the same path as his fastball while coming in 11-12 mph slower.
Despite all the positives, the White Sox ultimately decided now isn’t the time for Rodon.
“You want him to come up and pitch and be successful,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
There seems to be a consensus Rodon isn’t far from reaching the point where the White Sox believe he can be successful. Hahn said the White Sox spent a lot of time debating the pros and cons of a promotion.
Even tough they chose to not to promote him, the amount of back and forth they had discussing Rodon is evidence enough for Hahn to know he’ll be with the White Sox soon enough.
“Why allow the calendar to dictate our development plan ultimately?” Hahn said. “The fact that we are having this conversation is a huge positive. The fact that there’s actually debate as to whether a kid who three months ago was on college campus belongs in the big leagues is a very good thing for our future. It’s just that it’s going to be put off until some time in 2015.”