In the lead up to the 2014 MLB Draft, NC State teammates Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner both were high-upside prospects. Rodon’s future figured a more certain thing, thanks to his stuff and that nasty slider, while Turner had to answer questions about how his bat and defense would translate.
Rodon was selected 10 spots ahead of Turner in that draft, but Turner has been—and will continue to be—the better player at the Major League level. There’s no way to frame Carlos’ pro career without using the word disappointment, and that’s not his fault, but that’s where things stand.
Rodon moved quickly through the minors after being selected third overall by the White Sox in 2014, but has since found little consistent success, mainly because he’s been hurt a lot. (And also the White Sox organization is terrible.) But, man, there have been moments, you know, those stretches, whether they went a few weeks or a couple months, where he’d impose the tyranny of that slider, and you’d wonder.
But the injuries. An assortment of minor setbacks aside, he had a shoulder procedure in 2017 and in May of 2019 underwent Tommy John surgery.
Tommy John is so significant that the rehab generally takes well over a year—the White Sox were expecting him back for the second half of 2020, hopeful he could make a difference down the stretch in a potential playoff-bid year. That’s still accurate, it’s just there never was a first half, because the season never got started.
Rodon was back on the mound in Chicago on Saturday for an intrasquad scrimmage and his first appearance at an MLB stadium in 14 months, which it turns out was a typical scattershot performance of walks and strikeouts—and one notable home run allowed—but if anyone’s got some rust to shed, it’s Carlos.
The lack of lead-up real-game prep for a guy coming off a significant long-term injury is not exactly ideal, but still Rodon’s stuff can get him past that, and he may well factor into the White Sox rotation immediately. He will be a critical part of the 60-game sprint ahead, regardless.