Sunday, August 24, 2014

Carlos Rodon dominant in second Class AAA start; Knights walk off on Tides

Carlos Rodon is running out of opportunities to show the White Sox a reason not to call him up when rosters expand in September.

Considered by many to be one of the most major league-ready arms in this year’s draft, Rodon, 21, has not disappointed. 

The former NC State Wolfpack star and No. 3 overall pick allowed one run on one hit over four innings, while striking out a career-high eight in an 8-7 Charlotte Knights walk-off win over the Norfolk Tides in front of 9,328 at BB&T BallPark on Sunday.

After struggling with his fastball control over the first two innings, Rodon settled in to strike out five of the final six batters he faced.   

“I felt good,” said Rodon, who threw 73 pitches (47 strikes). “I had better command (as the start went on). I struggled a little bit early, but I made an adjustment and it ended up working well.”

Rodon’s final pitch of the night was a fastball away that left Tides shortstop Ivan De Jesus shaking his head as he walked back to the dugout.

“After the second, I just tried (to focus on) staying in my arm slot and trusting my stuff,” Rodon said. “(My last pitch of the game) was just nice and easy. I knew it was my last, so I gathered myself and it was smooth and came out good.”

In two starts with Charlotte (7 IP), Rodon has allowed two hits, two runs, and struck out 11. Of his 128 pitches, 72 have been strikes.

With the game tied 7-7 in the eighth inning, the Tides ran out of available pitchers and turned to infielder Alexi Casilla, who worked around a leadoff single to toss a clean frame. 

Casilla lacked the same luck in the ninth.  

A night after striking out in a bases-loaded situation where a fly ball would have won the game for Charlotte, Michael Taylor came up with the bases loaded again and, this time, came through with a walk-off single that landed on the warning track in center.

“I had an opportunity (Saturday) to win the game and it didn’t work out,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to get it (again) the next day and kind of close the book on the last 24 hours or so.”  

Asked his thoughts on Rodon, Taylor – who has been in professional baseball since 2007 – offered high praise.

“(Rodon’s) been as advertised and I think he’s got great stuff,” he said. “To me, he looks a lot like (San Francisco Giants starter) Madison Bumgarner. I faced him in his first start in Double-A back in 2009 and they look similar -- except (Rodon’s) probably got a better slider.

“That would be one heck of a major league pitcher if that’s who he ends up being.”

Assuming he's kept on normal rest, Rodon would be in line to start again on August 30 in Gwinnett with a goal of making it through five innings.

From there, his future is up to the White Sox.

Notes: Adam Eaton (MLB rehab) finished Sunday’s game 1-for-5 with a RBI single, a stolen base and a run scored. In two games with the Knights, the White Sox centerfielder has gone 3-for-10 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored. … Marcus Semien, Jared Mitchell, Matt Davidson and Josh Phegley each homered in the game for the Knights. ... Semien has now homered in three consecutive games.