Prior to his Charlotte Knights debut Tuesday, Carlos Rodon paused outside of BB&T BallPark just long enough to snap a few photographs.
He likes to grab a shot of each stadium he plays in.
Two hours later, a sold-out crowd of 10,287 watched – and snapped its own photos – as the left-hander trotted to the pitcher’s mound to make his Class AAA debut in an eventual 10-5 Knights loss to Gwinnett.
Rodon, 21, held the Braves to one run on one hit in what was – without doubt – the most scrutinized, analyzed and talked-about three innings in the history of Charlotte’s newest uptown attraction.
Rodon walked three and struck out three on 55 pitches before being removed from the game five pitches short of his White Sox-mandated pitch count.
Moments after a first inning in which Rodon recorded two swinging strikeouts, video of the left-hander’s slider running in on Elmer Reyes’ feet – as the Braves shortstop waved at it helplessly – were making their rounds on the web.
Rodon “competed well and that’s the one thing you’re watching,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said. “It didn’t seem like anything looked uncomfortable to him at all. He just went about his business.”
Of the 28 sellouts in Charlotte this season, none had occurred on a Tuesday prior to the arrival of 6-foot-4 Rodon, who has plenty of fans in the area, having led Holly Springs High to a state championship before attending N.C. State.
Rodon led the Wolfpack to the 2013 College World Series before being drafted third overall by the Chicago White Sox in June.
Since turning professional, Rodon has been fast-tracked, making two appearances with with rookie-league affiliate Arizona before joining Class A Winston-Salem, where he made his way into four games (two starts).
Rodon then skipped Class AA to join the Knights, following a similar developmental path to that of 2010 first-round selection Chris Sale, who – like Rodon – appeared in four games in Winston-Salem before leapfrogging to join Charlotte.
“I’m just trying to get better and make my stuff better,” Rodon said when asked about how aggressively Chicago has moved him through its system. “They challenge everyone in this organization. I’m not the only one.”
Rodon worked around a one-out walk to post a scoreless second inning before a bout of wildness in his final inning.
After two walks and a single loaded the bases with one out, Rodon limited the damage by inducing a sacrifice fly and an inning-ending popout to shortstop.
“I felt good,” he said. “I struggled with the fastball command but tried to make some adjustments. It was good to get my feet wet.
“Guys are more patient; they’re going to see what you have. Those first couple at-bats, they were taking pitches and trying to see the slider, see the change-up, and see the fastball and I noticed that.”
As Rodon walked off the mound following the third inning, 2,000 Jordan Danks bobbleheads, Tuesday’s promotion, nodded their approval.
Having gone from pitching for the Wolfpack at the beginning of this season to one step away from the major leagues, its good that Rodon is taking pictures. When he looks back, it’s all going to be a blur.
South Atlantic League
Hickory 2, Augusta 1: Luis Marta’s fifth-inning home run broke a tie at 1, and the visiting Crawdads made it stand in a victory over the GreenJackets.
Asheville 6, Kannapolis 1:The visiting Tourists scored four times before the Intimidators could pick up a bat. Eddy Alvarez finished 3-for-4 with a double for Kannapolis.
BRAVES 10, KNIGHTS 5
E — Davidson. DP–Gwinnett 2, Charlotte 2. LOB–Gwinnett 9, Charlotte 6. 2B–Mitchell, Reyes, Kazmar, Leonard. HR—Tuiasosopo, Terdoslavich. SF–Murphy, Sanchez, Salcedo.
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