Last week, some of the Chicago Cubs’ top executives scouted – among others, I’m sure – top high school righty Tyler Kolek and big-time college righty Jeff Hoffman, each of whom is expected to be among the top handful of picks in this year’s amateur draft, which takes place in early June.
And, according to Bruce Levine, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is going to head out on Friday to check out top college lefty Carlos Rodon. For more than a year, the N.C. State lefty has been projected as the top pick in the 2014 draft, but a number of recent projections and discussions have left open the possibility that Rodon will fall out of the top spot, if not further. The Cubs pick fourth in the first round, which still seems too far for Rodon to fall, but the Cubs are wise to be doing their due diligence on any player who could conceivably be there at four, and whom they could conceivably pick.
Rodon had another solid, if unspectacular outing on Friday, going eight innings, allowing one earned run on six hits, three walks, and a HBP. He struck out seven, and threw 115 pitches.
This year, Rodon has posted a 2.15 ERA over 71 innings, walking 24 and striking out 79. You never want to read too much into college baseball stats, but, it is worth noting that typically the higher-end college pitching prospects are a touch more dominant than Rodon has been. What really matters, however, is how the stuff is looking, and how he projects down the road.
In that regard, Rodon is believed to still be a highly-coveted pitching prospect, one who would immediately land in the top 20 (if not higher) of every prospect rankings list. He could also be an impact arm, for whatever team takes him, as soon as the second half of 2015. While the Cubs will still hopefully go for the guy they believe has the highest ceiling/certainty combination (whether that’s a pitcher or a bat), it would be a nice bonus to pick up a pitcher who would just happen to be arriving in the same wave as the current crop of positional guys.
(Fun fact: Rodon occasionally DH’s for the Wolfpack, and although he doesn’t have much power, he is hitting .314 with a .415 OBP. Offensive value from your pitcher isn’t something you require, but, hey, in the NL, it could be a little bonus. Of course, I’m hoping the DH will be in place in the NL long before Rodon becomes a big league mainstay, but, hey, whatever.)