Monday, June 2, 2014

Twins Draft Preview: Carlos Rodon

With the Houston Astros having the number one overall pick for the third year in a row, there can be some question about who will be selected first overall. Two years ago it looked like Mark Appel would be a lock for the first pick. The Astros saved a little money by taking Carlos Correa and this looks like a great decision. Correa is blossoming into one of the best position players in the minors and Appel ended up in an Astros uniform in last year's draft.

Will Houston go with an expected player at the top of the draft or will they surprise the baseball world for the second time in three years? 
Who is this guy?
Rodon attended high school in North Carolina and was drafted in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. The appeal of playing of staying in his home state to pitch for North Carolina State was too much and he made the decision not to sign with the Brewers.

Entering the 2014 spring season, Rodon was considered by many to be the clear-cut number one pick in the draft. He burst onto the scene as a freshman at NC State. In 2012, he posted a 9-0 record with a 1.57 ERA over 16 starts. He struck out 135 and walked 41 in 114.2 innings. His sophomore campaign was also very good as he compiled a 2.99 ERA and struck out 184 in 132.1 innings.

There have been some concerns about how he's been used during his junior season and this could cause him to fall in the draft. He's only thrown 98.2 innings and he has a 2.01 ERA but there have been some long outings. During one three game stretch, he was averaging 126 pitches per start. With Tommy John surgery seeming like a big league epidemic, teams will be cautious when it comes to his workload. Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde, two possible top 10 draft picks, have already had Tommy John surgery.

Rodon's stock might not be as high as it was coming into the spring season but he should still be one of the first couple names called by Bud Selig on draft night.

Why the Twins will pick him?
Starting pitching is one of the weaknesses for the Twins and many of their top pitching prospects are multiple years away from the big leagues. Rondon's college experience could make him a fast mover in the organization and this could allow him to be an impact player in the next couple of years. A possible rotation with Alex Meyer, Kohl Stewart, and Carlos Rodon is the stuff dreams are made of for Twins fans.

While some of the prep arms would take awhile to develop, Rodon is already a proven pitcher who could likely make an impact at the big league level sooner rather than later. If Rodon were to make it to the Twins with the fifth pick and he is healthy, there is no reason to think the team wouldn't take him.

Why the Twins won't pick him?
Realistically, there doesn't seem like a scenario where Rodon would drop to the Twins especially with the injuries to other potential top pitching prospects. He's not going to be on the board at number five.

Scott Boras is an advisor to Rodon and that could scare away some teams if he drops in the draft. Last year's top pick Mark Appel, another Boras client, was supposed to be the top pick in the 2012 draft but he fell to ninth and he didn't sign with the Pirates. That sounds like a headache the Twins would like to avoid even though they have shown a tendency to pay the full slotted amount for their top picks.

Also, the Twins haven't used their first overall pick on a college pitcher since 2009-2010 when they selected Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers in back-to-back drafts. Gibson has found some big league success but both players underwent Tommy John surgery in the minors. Rodon's high workload in college might scare away the front office.

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