"He's a great pitcher, might be the Cy Young winner," Rodon said on an extremely chill conference call Friday, a day after being drafted third overall by the White Sox. "He's doing pretty well."
Hey, at least he's heard of Sale. When I asked Rodon what he knew about White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, the living legend himself, he said, "To be honest, nothing."
I can't wait to re-ask that question to Rodon next spring training.
"He's the guru," Rodon might say. "Kind of a close talker, too."
"Most of my interactions [with the team] are from watching them on TV and watching Jose Abreu hit some bombs," he said. "That's about it."
Rodon gives the White Sox another big name to market to its fanbase, not to mention a possible star in a lefty-heavy rotation. Imagine Sale, Rodon, Jose Quintana and John Danks as your top four? If Rodon is a fast riser next year, you might see it. I can't imagine he pitches too much this year, if at all, before some fall ball.
The Sox have to sign him first, and his agent Scott Boras isn't going to fast track it.
But the Sox have to be thinking of all the possibilities that come with this pick. Their 99-loss aberration was certainly worth the chance to get a pitcher with this much potential.
My idea: Go big.
Because Rodon is one letter from "Godzilla" movie monster Rodan, I'm thinking the White Sox market Rodon, Sale and Abreu as the Monster Trio. Abreu is Godzilla and Sale is Mothra. Get to work on the sketches, Brooks Boyer!
I was hoping for a spirited conversation with Rodon. He's supposedly pretty cocky, and given that he was the top draft prospect coming into the season after a spectacular sophomore season, why shouldn't he be?
This season, Rodon had a 2.01 ERA (22 earned runs in 98 ⅔ innings) with 117 strikeouts over 14 starts. Sounds pretty good to me. Not to him, though. The Wolfpack were bounced in the ACC tournament.
"My performance didn't live up to expectations," he said. "I guess that happens sometimes. Baseball is a tough sport. There's a lot of failure. You fail more than you succeed. That's baseball."
No one cares about his 6-7 record, but a concern is that Rodon threw three complete games and averaged 113 pitches a start. That kind of workload led to speculation he was being overused. Rodon denied it quite forcefully to the local media during the season.
"They don't know the inside of my arm," Rodon said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. "They don't understand the way I throw. Maybe they do understand the mechanical situation, but they don't understand how my arm works or if I'm feeling tired."
Alas, Rodon didn't bite when I asked about those questions on the call.
But he did say dropping to third in the draft, however slight of a snub, would be motivation to succeed. Getting out of the minors as quickly as possible should be motivation enough.
The Sox don't play too many games with service time, and with a low season-ticket base and an ever-present need to sell tickets, expect Rodon to come up as soon as he's ready. Knowing the White Sox, maybe sooner.