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Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: CARLOS RODON SP CHICAGO WHITE SOX

A day earlier we profiled the massive fantasy baseball draft sleeper upside that Houston Astros fireballing youngster Lance McCullers carries with him into the 2016 season.  The main strength of McCullers which we discussed was his strikeout ability which alone makes him quite a good sleeper investment.  Along those same lines, we take a closer look of young Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon who is already showing the type of big-time strikeout stuff that points him toward upper rotation ability real soon.  With that said let's take a closer look at Rodon and what he could supply his owners this season. 

Heat, heat, and more heat.  That is the name of the game when it comes to the 23-year-old Rodon who was the third overall pick by the White Sox in the 2014 draft.  Clearly the pedigree is there and expectations have been very high for Rodon who literally hit the ground running in striking out batters when he struck out over 13.00 batters per 9 IP at both Single-A and Triple-A.  Rodon was so dominant that he skipped Double-A entirely in his debut campaign in the White Sox minor league system.  It was more of the same to start 2015 as Rodon pitched all of 10 innings at Triple-A before the White Sox called him up in late April.  While there was a bunch of hype attached to Rodon, the bummer was that the White Sox decided to have him pitch out of the bullpen to start which put a major cap on his fantasy baseball value.  It quickly proved a poor fit for Rodon who, despite still striking out a bunch of batters, struggled badly with his control as he had a tough time adjusting to the bullpen.  After a 5.40 ERA in April, the White Sox soon moved Rodon to the rotation in May where he belonged. 

Once into the rotation, Rodon went through typical growing pains for a young power pitcher, particularly with his control as his walk rate spiked.  With Rodon having crazy movement on his pitches, the walks were a major issue which led to an elevated 3.80 ERA and a putrid 1.60 WHIP.  Rodon also was quite hittable as his .267 BAA attested.  Soon enough however, Rodon began to adjust as the season went on.  The result was a 3.70 ERA during the second half of the season but with a much lower 1.29 WHIP.  Also Rodon's BAA dropped to a very good .237 mark.  Most impressive though were the 139 strikeouts in 139.1 IP.  Now as Rodon gets set to enter the 2016 season more experienced and as a full member of the team's rotation, there is more than a bit of hype attached to his name. 

We must take into account the fact Rodon remains an unfinished product who will still battle control problems from time to time.  That means his WHIP may not be very friendly, likely settling above the 1.25 mark.  However Rodon's stuff is so hard to hit that an ERA approaching 3.50 is possible.  Throw in a K/IP ratio and Rodon could be around the 175-K mark and maybe even higher.  There will be an innings cap this season as he is still very young but Rodon's affordable draft price makes him a key mid-round target. 

2016 PROJECTION:  10-9 3.63 ERA 1.28 WHIP 178 K 

 

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