Charlotte Knights

Former NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon called up to White Sox

Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon works against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 16, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon works against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 16, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP

Carlos Rodon didn’t have to wait long to get to the major leagues. The former N.C. State star didn’t have to wait long to find a familiar face in Chicago, either.

The Chicago White Sox called up Rodon, their top prospect and first-round pick in last June’s draft, on Monday.

On Sunday night, Rodon flew up from Charlotte, the White Sox’s Class AAA affiliate, to Chicago where he was met by Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent.

Avent was with the N.C. State team in Chicago, after a weekend series with Notre Dame. When Avent heard the news about Rodon’s promotion, via Twitter, he changed his plans.

“He was coming in by himself,” Avent said Monday. “I thought I should stay and spend some time with him. We’ve been together so many steps of the way, it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Rodon, who’s from Holly Springs, won 25 games and struck out 436 batters in three years for Avent and the Wolfpack. He led N.C. State to the College World Series in 2013.

The White Sox took Rodon, a powerful left-hander with a phenomenal slider, with the third overall pick in last year’s draft. He’ll be in the bullpen Monday night against the Cleveland Indians. Rodon’s parents, Carlos Sr. and Julie, and Avent will be at the game in Chicago for his major league debut.

White Sox ready for Rodon

Rodon signed his contract, which included a $6.85 million bonus last July, right before the draft deadline. He started his pro career with the White Sox affiliate in the Arizona League, for two games before a four-game stint in Winston-Salem (Class A) and three starts with Charlotte in August.

After spending spring training with the White Sox, he started the 2015 season in Charlotte, but after two minor league starts, the White Sox had seen enough.

In all, Rodon threw 341/3 innings in the minors, with a 1-0 record and 3.15 ERA. He struck out 51, walked 17 and gave up 28 hits.

With a 4-7 record going into Monday’s home game with Cleveland, the White Sox decided they were ready for Rodon, who had a 1-0 record with a 3.60 ERA with Charlotte this season and 13 strikeouts in 10 innings.

Rodon’s the second player from his draft class to get called up to the majors. Kansas City called up former TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan for their playoff stretch run last September.

Goal is to be a starter

When Chicago took Rodon last year, he was immediately compared to Chris Sale, a star college pitcher taken in the first round by the White Sox in 2010.

Sale spent two seasons in the bullpen before moving into the rotation and is one of their top starters.

“The long-term goal is for him to be a starter,” Avent said. “I think part of the reason they called him up is they need some people in the bullpen to get people out and Carlos can do that.”

Chicago’s preliminary plan is to use Rodon out of the bullpen, where his slider will be an asset. Rodon throws his fastball in the mid- to low 90s and his slider in the high 80s, low 90s.

Avent said Rodon needs to develop his change-up to complement his slider and fastball. He also will have to work on his control.

“He’s going to need the change to keep right-handers off of his slider,” Avent said. “If you can’t sit on that slider, it’s almost impossible to hit.”

Rodon and Avent had a long talk Sunday night, the Wolfpack coach said, about everything, not just baseball. Rodon has a new German Shepherd puppy, aptly named “Lefty,” who’ll no doubt be on future fishing expeditions with Rodon.

Avent said he kept asking Rodon about how he was doing, but Rodon kept wanting to talk about the Wolfpack and the progress of his old teammates.

“We caught up on everything,” Avent said. “It was good for both of us. We are all so proud of him at N.C. State. It’s just great to see him live his dream.”

Giglio: 919-829-893

Fast riser

Carlos Rodon rocketed to the major leagues after eight starts in the minors, becoming the second fastest in his draft class to reach the majors (No. 17 overall pick Brandon Finnegan pitched for the Royals last September but is back in the minors). Compare that to where the rest of the top 10 picks in last year’s draft are:

Pick

Player

Pos.

Team

2015 season

1.

Brady Aiken

LHP

Houston

Did not sign

2.

Tyler Kolek

RHP

Miami

Low A Greensboro

3.

Carlos Rodon

LHP

Chicago White Sox

Promoted to majors

4.

Kyle Schwarber

C

Chicago Cubs

AA Tennessee

5.

Nick Gordon

SS

Minnesota

Low A Cedar Rapids, Iowa

6.

Alex Jackson

OF

Seattle

Low A Clinton, Iowa

7.

Aaron Nola

RHP

Philadelphia

AA Reading, Pa.

8.

Kyle Freeland

LHP

Colorado

Injured

9.

Jeff Hoffman

RHP

Toronto

Injured

10.

Michael Conforto

OF

New York Mets

High A St. Lucie, Fla.

Triangle ties

Before leading N.C. State to the College World Series, Carlos Rodon led Holly Springs to a state baseball championship. Rodon, expected to pitch in relief for the Chicago White Sox, will become the fifth active MLB player from a Triangle high school:

Debut

Player

High School

Skinny

2012

Chris Archer

Clayton

Rays’ opening day starter averages 8 Ks per 9 IP.

2011

Tim Federowicz

Apex

Hurt his knee in spring training with Padres. Expected back in August.

2011

Jerry Sands

Smithfield-Selma

Signed in offseason as free agent with Cleveland.

2007

Josh Hamilton

Athens Drive

2010 A.L. MVP recovering from shoulder surgery.

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