My Rodon Reaction

Like many drafts, the 2014 MLB draft wound up with a huge amount of conversation based on extremely limited information. The general public only gets tiny snippets of meaningful knowledge about a lot of these players. Then you factor in the rumors - many of which are deliberately skewed by front offices floating misinformation in order to disguise their true strategy. And even if we did know what the front offices did, just take a look at Top 100 prospect lists or drafts from 5-10 years ago and you'll see how accurate that information turns out to be.  After weeks and then months of prognostication and mock drafts, people had generally deduced what would happen, and then began talking themselves out of it. 

For months, the consensus was that there was a definitive Top 3 in this draft class - Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Carlos Rodon. After that, there was a big dropoff, and it generally involved guys like Nick Gordon, Alex Jackson, and Aaron Nola in the tier behind. Then we started hearing the potential twists. "The Marlins ownership is insisting on Rodon but their baseball people don't want him!" "The Astros are going to draft someone to save money at #1! Nola! Gordon! Jackson! And then the Marlins are only going to draft Rodon, so the White Sox will have Aiken and Kolek to choose from, but they don't like Aiken, and then the Cubs will draft Max Pentecost!"

And so on.

At the end of the day, the top three were the top three, and the White Sox picked the guy who was left after the first two went. Pretty much the most obvious outcome that had been determined about a month ago. 

Collin has been excited from Rodon from the very beginning. That's perfectly understandable. He's huge and was the #1 with a bullet pick for like a year until two extremely special high school prospects emerged. He shouldn't take long to be ready for the majors, he has a great build, and a really special pitch - a slider that some scouts have put an 80 on depending on when they saw him.

I have my reservations about him. His velocity has been inconsistent this year, his fastball command is often meh, and NC State has justifiably been accused of overworking him. Part of me wonders if the concerns about Rodon stem from the heightened levels of scrutiny he has been exposed to since he was dubbed Consensus Number One Pick about a year ago. If you start looking at pretty much any of these prospects closely you can start to find reasons to get worried.

I also suspect many of my fears stem from the scenarios I was playing out in my head, where Aiken or Kolek would be on the board and the White Sox would take Rodon instead, then whichever player they passed over would be an ace and Rodon would be a reliever. But then, any combination of picking one of the top three over any of the other would leave you vulnerable to regret and doubt. Any of those three guys could be a bust. Any of them could be an ace.

In the end it was simple. The White Sox simply picked the last of the three who was leftover after the first two went, and it was probably the right decision, whether it works out or not. After a lot of handwringing and pondering the different possibilities, the White Sox took the best available player and didn't overthink anything.

At this point Rodon's issues will be making sure he has consistent mechanics, working on his fastball command, and improving his third pitch. The downsides may be increased risk of injury, that he's already hit his ceiling, and the issues that Boras presents -- an above-slot signing bonus, and more hardball negotiating at the major league level when it comes to extensions. One hopes that Boras will be slightly chastened by having completely misread the new landscape of the CBA and botching Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales' free agency, but I doubt it. 

I don't quite like the Sale comparisons with Rodon. Sale was fastball/change in college and taught himself his 80 slider in the minors. Rodon is slider first, a pretty good fastball, and he needs to learn a change. Their builds and delivery are different. This pick isn't chasing Sale again.

This pick is pretty simple: The White Sox needed pitching, have a ton of money to spend on this draft, and are hoping to rebuild as fast as possible. Rodon checks all of those boxes and was the best available player to boot. He brings a substantial amount of risk with him, but I's the MLB draft. That's how it goes.