The Chicago White Sox are trying to convert former Pack ace Eric Surkamp into a LOOGY. After Surkamp, now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, improved steadily each month after a rough April (6.00 ERA), the finesse lefty got the call in late June. Due to his situational role out of the bullpen, Surkamp has recorded just 7.2 innings pitched in 12 outings. He’s been credited with four holds but sports a high 5.87 ERA due to being victimized by the long ball and some uncharacteristically bad control.
Prone to nibbling, Surkamp has struggled with his control in his three MLB stints, walking 5.4 batters per nine innings compared to 2.4/9 in 558 career minor league innings. He’s walked five for the Sox already but may have escaped harm had two of the three hits he’s allowed not left the yard. If he can cut down on the free passes and bombs (which weren’t an issue for him in the minors either), Surkamp has a genuine shot at sticking with the Sox, though it’s kind of a curious choice to try to turn him into a port-side specialist given that he has often had reverse splits in the minors. For example: In his strongest minor league season, 2011, Surkamp went 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA across two levels; lefties posted a paltry .630 OPS against him but righties were even worse at .603. The reverse splits were even more pronounced in 2013 (.629/.758) and 2009 (.643/.776).
Carlos Rodon made his professional debut yesterday in the Arizona Rookie League, tossing an inning in relief. Los allowed a run on two bouncing singles up the middle, one to lead off the inning and another with two outs after the runner had moved to second on a fielder’s choice. He struck out one and didn’t walk anybody.
The Sox are expected to use Rodon out of the pen for the rest of the year. The same plan worked out pretty well for Chris Sale, who made it to The Show in his draft year. Sale actually spent the following year as a reliever with the big league club before becoming a starter full time in 2012. He made just 11 appearances in the minors before making his MLB debut.
Rodon will make at least one more appearance in the desert before being reassigned to Winston-Salem. If he is on the Sale route, he might not be there for long.