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carlos rodon

As far back as last Summer, everyone seemed to know who the top pick in the 2014 draft would be: N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon. Were he available to be drafted last year, he almost certainly would have gone first. While he’s not quite the Stephen Strasburg/Bryce Harper type (seriously: how freaking lucky were the Nationals that those two guys just happened to be in the two drafts they picked first?), he’s the kind of stud who probably immediately enters the top 10 prospect rankings in all of baseball upon signing.

The Astros pick first in this year’s draft, and they’ll be taking Rodon, assuming he stays healthy this season.

Right?

Well, that has been the prevailing wisdom for a long time, but in a chat yesterday, Keith Law snuck in quite a bit of doubt:

[Rodon] hasn’t pitched up to expectations – fastball has been average, command average or a tick below, and he’s not missing bats. I thought a month ago he was the clear 1-1 pick, but now I don’t see it.

Wow. That’s not Law saying there’s a tiny chance Rodon doesn’t go first – he’s saying, as of right now, it wouldn’t happen. Through 30 innings this year, Rodon’s sporting a 2.40 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 7 walks (and 6(!) HBP). Those are great numbers, but, for a college ace at the top of the draft, you’d like to see more strikeouts. Still, it’s just four starts, so the numbers tell you only so much. It’s the questions about the fastball and the command that make you wonder. Later in the chat, Law questions whether Rodon has enough going for him other than the fantastic slider in order to go at the top of the draft.

Plus, you’ve got a guy like Tyler Beede dominating at Vanderbilt and another guy like Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) whom scouts love physically. It sounds now like there are legitimately other college arms worth considering at the top of the draft besides Rodon, and that’s not to mention the high school talent like Tyler Kolek, Alex Jackson, and Jacob Gatewood.

There was a time before the 2012 draft that Mark Appel seemed a mortal lock to go 1.1, but bonus demands (and the new CBA/the Astros’ strategy) made him slip, and then the CBA made his drop accelerate as lower teams felt they couldn’t afford to sign him if they picked him. He went 8th to the Pirates, and was not signed.

So, maybe Rodon really does end up slipping, and maybe he’s actually there for the Cubs at four.

Before you go over the moon dreaming about the Cubs landing Rodon in the June draft, keep in mind three things:

(1) I still don’t think he’s going to slide, and a guy like Rodon sliding all the way to four seems extraordinarily unlikely;

(2) When a guy like Rodon slides, it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s a shot at a stud you didn’t think would be there, but he likely slid for a reason (other guys popping up, combined with reduced scouting love); and

(3) The Cubs’ slot value for the fourth pick might approach $5 million, but the slot for the first overall pick is likely to top $8 million. If Rodon, a junior, is expecting to receive $8 million in order to sign, he could really hold the Cubs’ feet to the fire if they take him with that 4th pick. They could go over slot to get him, but they’d have to get creative in later rounds, and it’s a risk. For a talent like Rodon – assuming he didn’t slide for reasons that take him off of your board – you still might take that risk. Some team will.

Number two is the one that concerns me when constructing my own, mental narrative about a draft prospect. There’s so much hype about certain guys for so long that it’s easy to ignore that these are very young players for whom an entire additional amateur season is still to be played (minus a handful of games so far this year). That’s a boatload of additional data and scouting available on these guys before the draft takes place. If Rodon slips between now and June, it’s going to be because “the marketplace of ideas” has absorbed new information about him, and he’s no longer the guy we thought he was a year ago.

That said, the idea that there’s even a discussion here excites me because it further opens up the possibilities to the Cubs at four. The more stud players in the draft (well, not too many) there are, the better chance the Cubs get *the* guy they want with their first round pick.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll end up being Rodon.

  • Kyle

    That’s been what a couple of people have been saying for about a month. I can’t remember if Law was one of them, but that’s not the first time I’ve heard a pundit say that Rodon isn’t the sure-fire No. 1 that the media narrative has played him out as.

    I think you’re second thought is probably accurate: I guess it’s neat, but the reason he’s falling is that he’s not all that studlike this year.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      I still wonder how previous “Consensus Top Pick” guys who fall in the season prior to the draft do in the bigs.

      • C. Steadman

        It’d be an interesting study for sure.

      • C. Steadman

        I remember around this time in 2012 Appel was consensus for the #1 draft(fell to Pirates at either 7 or 8, can’t remember)

        • Funn Dave

          Somebody didn’t read the article :P

          • C. Steadman

            Ha, just saw that…I’m guilty…

          • C. Steadman

            At least my memory is still decent!

    • NorthSideIrish

      Someone at BA said this same thing a few weeks back about Rondon not being a lock for 1.1 Even if he isn’t #1, I don’t think he gets past the White Sox at #3 (hope we all enjoyed that Cross Town sweep last season). My hope is that either Beede or less likely Hoffman is there when the Cubs are picking.

      • JB88

        It isn’t crazy to think that one of those two would be there for the Cubs at 1.4, especially if the Astros pick a kid like Kolek at 1.1 …

  • Jon

    Tyler Kolek, 6-4 250, throws 100 already. Not fat, but also doesn’t look like he’s picked up a weight in his life. Imagine what a structured workout routine could do to his strength?

    Wouldn’t shock me to see him go #1

    • itzscott

      Read a lot of stuff on Kolek lately and I’d bet he’s a lock to go 1.1 to the Astros….. Big Texas boy tossing bullets and all that suggests to Astro fans that he’s the new Nolan Ryan.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Eh…if you’re a prospecty pitcher in Texas you’re the next Nolan Ryan.

        • Edwin

          Sort of like if you’re a soft tossing righty in the Cubs system you’re the next Greg Maddux.

      • Jon

        Yeah, High School season hasn’t even started yet so he can easily ascend.

      • JB88

        Pure speculation on my part, but Kolek probably also fit the Stros draft strategy of a guy who will sign under slot.

      • Norm

        He’d be the first High School RHP to ever go 1-1.

        I don’t see it.

        • Norm

          Or maybe it’s lefty? I forget now.
          But I still think one of the college guys gets the nod.

          • C. Steadman

            Nope, you got it right. If Kolek would go #1, he’d be the 1st RHP HS arm.

        • C. Steadman

          If anyone would be the first, it’d be the Astros.

          • jp3

            If he’s cheap of course

  • Javier Bryant

    Have a buddy that went to NC St and has seen Rodon pitch and when I asked about him he said they definitely overuse him there, maybe that’s factoring in to this

    • Darth Ivy

      oops, I read that as, “…fracturing in to this”

      That would be a much different situation.

    • C. Steadman

      That could be interesting. Recently, I looked at his last box score and he threw 120+ pitches against Notre Dame.

  • CubFanBob

    Scott Boris is his “cough agent” advisor….

    • Funn Dave

      Gtfo. man am I sick of him. All teams should boycott all of Boras’ cliets–and “advisees”–starting now. How hilarious would it be to see all of his uber-talented clients just sitting around not getting signed–and it would sure shake things up a bit. Would never happen but it makes me smile.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The collusion lawsuit would just be total hoot.

  • JL82

    If the Cubs go with Beede, Hoffman, Kolek or Rodon with that 4th pick. I’ll be a happy camper.

    • JB88

      Kolek is probably the only one I wouldn’t be thrilled with and that’s only because he would be so far away from emerging at the ML level.

      • Javier Bryant

        Agreed. If Kolek does go number one then the Cubs could be assured one of Beede/Hoffman

  • Darth Ivy

    Now I’m just waiting for a Pirates scout to question is birth certificate.

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    “Talked to any scouts that have watched Tanaka pitch in ST? Anything to pass along, positive or negative?

    Klaw (2:08 PM)

    Heard both positive and negative. No one saying the splitter is the best pitch in the world, though.”

    THE CUBS FRONT OFFICE IS SMART!!!

    • mjhurdle

      I wonder just how bad it would hurt the Yankees if Tanaka ends up being average at best (not saying he will based on ST, just a general question)

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Given the state of the Yankees pitching, the probable upcoming FA classes, and the depth of their farm system, an “average” Tanaka would still make the Yankees better in 2014-2017 than whoever his replacement(s) would make them. However, “better” might not take them to “good” in this scenario.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          …but it does take away the opportunity to spend that same money on someone else who will play up to the contract value (assuming Tanaka doesn’t live up to the hype).

          • DocPeterWimsey

            For any other team, I would agree. However, the Yanks spend by different rules. Their biggest problem in the upcoming seasons is going to be supply: even if they have money to spend (and they will find it), and even if Tanaka does well, then they still have several difficult-to-fill holes approaching. (They also don’t have much of a farm system.)

            • Eternal Pessimist

              I agree. They can spend better than anyone (except perhaps the new/improved Dodgers). Each dollar spent generates more revenue for them in their huge market and a bad deal for the Cubs is an OK deal in NY.

    • Jon

      Spring Training references should always be taking with a grain of salt

      *unless a Cub player is doing great, then it counts, or if a non-Cub is stinking it up, that counts too

      • Funn Dave

        Sure seems that way over here sometimes.

      • mjhurdle

        it would be interesting to go back and count the number of posts that actually are over-reacting to ST results vs the number of posts referencing/complaining about people over-reacting to ST results. Im guessing the second count would be higher.

        • Jon

          Either ST results mean something or they don’t.You can’t have it both ways!

        • Fishin Phil

          I’m betting you are right mjhurdle.

  • Funn Dave

    http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/10607250/chicago-cubs-shortstop-starlin-castro-return-delayed-hamstring-injury

    I yearn for the day when I see Cubs stories on the front page of espn.com and do not do a shocked double take.

    • On The Farm

      Did anyone see this article today http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/10607642/matt-garza-milwaukee-brewers-extra-motivated-beat-chicago-cubs

      Quote from Garza:”I wish them the best,” he said. “But I like where I’m at, and I’m going to try to kick their teeth in every time I get a chance.”…

      Next one:

      “They finally put it like, ‘Hey, we’re rebuilding, don’t get comfortable,'” he said. “You just take it with a grain of salt and enjoy the time while you’re there.

      “I’m just a pawn. It’s just playing a chess match. You’ve got your king and your queen you have to protect, and then you put the pawns in. That’s us.”

      • Jon

        Player moral and perceptions are another fallout from the fantasy baseball “tanking” mentality.

        • On The Farm

          Well maybe if Garza wasn’t so injury prone they would have traded him a year earlier so he wouldn’t have had to wait so long on the trade block. This is really Garza’s fault.

          • Jon

            Getting hurt is his fault?

            • On The Farm

              Obviously he needs to have stronger tendons in his elbow and most of this situation could have been avoided.

              • DarthHater

                Yea, he lacks TWST.

                *The Will To Stronger Tendons

      • bbmoney

        Yeah. I really don’t have much of a problem with any of Garza’s quotes either. He should want to “kick in” the Cub’s and every other team’s teeth when he pitches….assuming he’s not speaking too literally there…..

        And I can understand not enjoying being on the block for two straight years. Seems like a big non-story and not nearly as bad sounding as the Kinsler piece from before.

        • C. Steadman

          I just hope Lake drops at least one bunt down against Garza and he’s the one to field it.

          • bbmoney

            I hope so too.

            But not because of this…just because…you know…..comedy….and the likelihood of a good result for the Cubs.

            • C. Steadman

              Yeah, I agree Garza can rightfully hold a grudge against the FO. I was thinking comedic relief.

          • mjhurdle

            I wouldn’t mind the entire lineup put down bunts the first time through. It would be hilarious, and have a decent shot of actually scoring some runs. :)

            • Fishin Phil

              He would go ballistic. :)

            • Eternal Pessimist

              …and every one down the 3rd base line. He doesn’t deserve the opportunity to “flip” the ball to first ever!!!

            • On The Farm

              They play them for the first time on April 25th for a three game set. Hopefully Garza pitches. I think the entire lineup laying down bunts will probably give the Cubs as much a chance to win as any other day :)

        • On The Farm

          “And I can understand not enjoying being on the block for two straight years.”

          Makes you wonder what Shark will say doesn’t it. I realize the personalities are different.

          • bbmoney

            I think that’s fair.

            Hopefully they’re making it clear their first choice is to extend him, at least I hope it is.

      • jp3

        That doesn’t make sense what garza said. He is a pawn in chess? He follows that by saying he’s playing it, someone should tell him how the saying goes.

  • candyland07

    I dont see the Cubs drafting a Pitcher but anything is possible .if Carlos Rodon slips to the 4 pick it is certainly understandable. Curious has Team Epstein ever selected a H.S player in the first round ? and/ or a pitcher at any level , I know i can look up the information and i will when i get bored.

    I like Alex Jackson – wish he was in college and a tad older to get a better read on him. I dont like drafting H.S prospects but with Team Epstein at the helm and if they do draft him than i feel better about my own assessment. He seems big – will grow into a power hitter and can play Catcher or the outfield. Is this the year the Cubs select a catcher to compliment it staff but realistically- when would his projection in donning a Cub Jersey 4 to 5 years? So i doubt the Cubs will draft him but this kid intrigue me.

    • C. Steadman

      Almora

      • Jon

        They took some high school players in Boston that didn’t work out, but again, those weren’t that high of 1st rounders.

      • candyland07

        thanks – that is certainly recent. i tend to forget that he is young. like high school young but he seems mature for his age.

    • C. Steadman

      Here’s the wiki page of the BoSox 1st rounders: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Boston_Red_Sox_first-round_draft_picks

      • C. Steadman

        They really took advantage of the old CBA and stacked up on 1st rounders…2005 they had 5 of them and did real well.

        • MattyNomad

          WOW. Imagine if the Cubs had that same opportunity…especially in last years draft class. Hell, look at this years. We could potentially fix years and years of pitching draught by playing it smart and gathering the right assets at different levels. That 05 BoSox draft just amazes me.

          • C. Steadman

            Theo used that strategy his first year(last year of the old CBA) as Cubs GM by letting Ramirez and Pena walk to get comp picks. Got Almora, Pierce Johnson, and Paul Blackburn in the 1st. Not near the ’05 Red Sox, but a solid haul to end the old CBA

            • Jon

              I thought the 2012 draft was subject to the new CBA rules?

              • C. Steadman

                Nope, because that’s how the Cardinals got Wacha at 19th. If it was the new CBA, the compensation from Pujols would’ve just been in the comp 1st round, but since Pujols was a Type A they picked 19th(Angels spot) and 36th(additional comp for a Type A)

                • Norm

                  The slot values kicked in but the compensation was a year behind.

            • C. Steadman

              “by letting Ramirez…walk”

              I forgot he declined a $16 million option…so Theo didn’t “let” him walk

              • C. Steadman

                Theo wasn’t even hired yet when ARam and Pena became free agents…dang my bad making Theo sound so smart by saying “Theo used that strategy his first year(last year of the old CBA) as Cubs GM by letting Ramirez and Pena walk to get comp picks”

  • Orval Overall

    Well, it’s not like the Astros haven’t passed on the BPA before (Correa over Buxton; Appel over Bryant/Grey). And in 2004, you had the Padres pass on Verlander to take Matt Bush, followed by teams drafting the entire Rice University starting rotation before Jered Weaver finally went at 12. So anything is possible.

    • Norm

      Correa and Appel were both BPA on some boards.

      • Orval Overall

        I’m not talking about it as strategy as much as outcome. (Though there is strategy there – whatever the Astros thought of Correa v. Buxton, the lower price tag had a big part in their decision).

        In retrospect, it’s hard to argue that the Astros selected the best player available in the 2012 draft based on the info known to date. It’s way early and that could still change, but right now pretty much everyone would take Buxton.

        More ambiguous from last year’s draft given how recent it was, but the early returns make both Grey and Bryant look like better picks.

        So my point is that it’s not totally discouraging from that history that you can draft behind the Astros and still end up with a better player/prospect than they got at 1.1

    • Jon

      Correa allowed them over slot on McCullers JR. Those evil CBA restrictions that hamstring your drafting!

      • Norm

        You do realize that strategy wouldn’t have worked if the Astros were picking anywhere other than the top 1 or 2 spots?

        OF course you do….just had to get another attempted jab in.

      • Norm

        And it just proves how much more valuable it is to pick 1 or 2, so good thinking Theo with your tank strategy!

    • ssckelley

      You never know what the Astro’s will do with the #1 pick. They have been known to sign a player they can sign for underslot in order to save pool money for later using a quantity over quality approach. I believe they signed Appel last year under slot.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Swingles?

  • Eric

    I want Beede simply because he is domination, and has that feel good story of being from Derrick Jonhsons old gig. It’s a perfect landing story. Plus he’s like, ultra talented and stuff. Won’t make it to #4 if you ask me.

  • statesvillenccub

    One thing to also consider is that Rodon has pitched in terrible weather so far this year.

  • Fastball

    Something you have to consider is that Rodon is a Junior and he doesn’t have to come out this year. If he has the slightest hint of his valuing dropping too far and his dollars dropping he will probably stay another year in school. Appel did it year before last. It’s what I would do if was him. Also he has the choice of not signing if he is drafted by an organization he is not inclined to play in. I am not sold on anybody that’s a pitcher this early in the college season. A top notch college starter still has at least 8 or 9 starts left this season. Way too many things can happen good and bad in this period of time. A sophomore my mature into a top flight college starter during this time. A highschool kid can emerge practically over night. A lot of kids are already scoped in the the showcases and advanced leagues. And then there are the kids that come out of nowhere in small town America. There are a lot of them that non of scouting services track or even heard of. Long and short of it. You can slate whomever you want at the top of the draft in the present

    • ssckelley

      If the Cubs got him at #4 there is no way he goes back to college. Appel went back to college after dropping to #8, there is a huge difference in signing bonus between #4 and #8.

  • Assman22

    Beede vs Nola tonight…pitching showdown lived up to it’s hype…Nola 6.2IP, 6H, 1ER, 12K, 2BB…Beede 7.1IP, 3H, 0ER, 7K, 1BB…

    • Soda Popinski

      Beede is a boss! He’s gonna fly up the boards to 1 or 2 if he keeps this up…

  • David

    Nola looks like a beast, too. I heard before tonight he had 37 inn pitched and only 2 walks. He may rise up a bit.

  • Assman22

    Rodon tonight…6.2IP, 5H, 12K, 4BB, 2ER and the L…draft is wide open right now…

  • Assman22

    Hoffman rocked again tonight…6.2IP, 5ER, 7H, 2BB, 5K…stock on the decline…

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Is Hoffman’s stuff still there or is the control just all over the place?

      • Assman22

        Hoffman has been working on his slider since the Cape which was flat again last night as it was in his prior game…needs to stick with the basics and work on the slider a little less…when he has his command in check he has 3 plus pitches…comps to Gausman from a couple drafts ago…

    • jp3

      I’m not a Hoffman fan, gets rocked too much and I think there is too much risk picking that high with him. Who is Nola?

  • SenorGato

    If they have to miss on Beede then Rodon or the no doubt best bat are the only options I want. I would prefer a shot at Rodon not come at the cost of having a shot at Beede. They’re really the only two college arms I’m interested in at 4.

    • SenorGato

      While I think Rodon as a whole is overrated, he has the best single tool in this draft with his breaking ball. That’s probably the best way to put it – no one has anything right now on that level.

      There’s a good and bad to that. There’s alot of real baseball value in being a lefty with an elite breaking ball and above average fastball. The bad is that’s putting alot of eggs into one basket, as he’s not really great great anywhere else (sometimes the fastball).

  • Diehardthefirst

    Theos been working those voodoo dolls running out of pins- CC, Parker, Beachy latest to fall- pretty soon Shark will be up for Cy Young by attrition

  • Assman22

    Draft Sleepers from last night(besides Nola, whom is no longer a sleeper)…Imhof 8IP, 3H, 1ER, 14K, 3BB…Wetzler 8IP, 2H, 1ER, 3K, 2BB…Robichaux 9IP, 4H, 1ER, 10K, 2BB…

    • jp3

      Nola, what kind of velocity does he have? The excerpt I read basically said at best he’s a middle of the rotation starter but I think that’s a stretch to call a prospect that at this point unless his “stuff” just isn’t that impressive.

      • David

        I heard he’ sort of a finesse guy, but he gets up to 94mph.

  • Assman22

    Kolek threw a no-hitter last night…what was the reason he didn’t get a perfect game…hit one batter…also supposedly hit 102 on radar gun…

    • candyland07

      That kid ,he is Amazing. Wow , not because he threw a no hitter,it was just a question of when? And if can stay injury free. THat same question can be ask at every level of his development. This kid can be a superstar.

    • jp3

      I feel for his 16 year old catcher trying to stop 102 mph heat, can’t be too many of those around.

  • candyland07

    I cat even imagine what a 102 mph pitch will do the adrenaline level of an adult. Whoever his catcher is -Good jobstay away from coffee and energy drinks when Kolek pitches.

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