clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

This Week in White Sox Minor League Baseball

New, 63 comments

Rodon's penultimate AAA start

Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon
Buren Roster

This week:

LHP Carlos Rodon made his second of three scheduled starts for Charlotte. His line: 4 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 8 K. In what has so far been a trademark, he accomplished that in a rather inefficient 73 pitches - 47 of which were strikes - and against a pretty unimposing Norfolk Tides (Orioles affiliate) offense. Perhaps since he knew that he was limited to either 4 innings or 80 pitches, he was consciously or subconsciously pitching to those limits. But the 21-year-old's lack of consistent command, particularly of his fastball, really seems to be the ongoing story.

I suspect major league hitters (particularly right-handed ones) wouldn't be all that concerned with facing this version of Rodon, if that's what September holds. We know that he's working on a mechanical tweak right now - the typical White Sox organization philosophy of "staying tall" - and I would imagine that is playing a role in these issues. But it's a necessity long-term that he is able to comfortably repeat his delivery, both for command and endurance purposes.

I'm still not seeing the baseball impetus for bringing up Rodon. Sure, the entertainment/business reasons may well be there. I imagine many seats will be sold for Rodon's appearances at the Cell and, among other reasons, there's also the suspected "handshake deal" regarding a September call-up.

What Rodon needs is repetitions - but a particular kind of repetitions. Due to N.C. State not reaching the College World Series, he only threw 98.2 collegiate innings, a number significantly below his totals as a freshman and sophomore. He's added on 19.2 innings as a pro so far and will get another five in his final start. Ideally, you'd want him to get about 150 total competitive innings. You'd really want them to be as a starter. And you'd really want them to be relatively low stress so he can focus on his mechanics, in addition to working on his command and his changeup.

The latter is going to be difficult to accomplish. "Working on" pitches can be a dangerous thing in the majors. And, as mentioned above, I don't think he's going to find all that many low stress innings. Major leaguers will be patient enough to get him into trouble with walks. They'll probably be able to turn him into a two pitch pitcher. And then, if he doesn't have fastball command, that will play down his excellent slider. When he gets into trouble and gets into long innings, it's going to be harder for him to keep the focus on his mechanics. I have a suspicion that he occasionally tips his pitches and, if he tips that slider, he's going to make it very tough on himself.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that his development would probably be better-served by pitching in the instructional league and then in the Arizona Fall League. Alas, a reason unrelated to Rodon rendered that a less desirable path. Frank Montas' two knee surgeries this season mean that he needs innings, too, and more desperately than Rodon. As teams can only contribute one starting pitcher to the AFL rosters, Montas will be that starter from the White Sox and the other pitchers will be one or two inning relievers - and that wouldn't really help Rodon. So, for better or worse, we'll almost certainly see Rodon this September. I suppose there are worse things for White Sox fans.

***

Who we won't be seeing is 2B Micah Johnson, who has been shutdown for the year with a hamstring injury that has apparently been nagging him most of this season. It's another injury to add to his three arm surgeries and his second consecutive premature end to a season. Yes, those are what one would call a pattern and pretty firmly places him in the "injury-prone" category.

The 23-year-old was a rather rubbish 23 for 35 in stolen bases this season, with half of those attempts during the first third of the season when he was with Birmingham. In 302 plate appearances with Charlotte, his line was a pedestrian .275/.314/.370, so at least he has an excuse. While it was positive to see that he could hold his own at higher levels, the main takeaway from this season is that Johnson is fragile and that he isn't useful when his legs aren't close to 100%.

***

Another potential September call-up, RHP Chris Beck, also landed on the disabled list with back spasms. While it was described as just a precautionary move, and he's expected to make a final start with Charlotte, it does call into question whether the White Sox will want to bring him up and in what role.

***

Tim Anderson finished up his rehab with the AZL White Sox and got promoted to Birmingham, where he's experiencing immediate success. He'll certainly be interesting to watch in the AFL, as he's made significant strides so far this season, even considering the time he missed due to his broken wrist.

***

All affiliates but the Voyagers will have their regular seasons wrapped up by September 1. Great Falls is also the only affiliate that will be in the playoffs, barring miraculous finishes by the Barons or the AZL White Sox.