The White Sox want Carlos Rodon to prove he's ready for a September callup. He took another step toward addressing any concerns on Sunday.
Making his second Triple-A start, the White Sox top prospect allowed one run on one hit and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts over four innings before Charlotte walked off with an 8-7 win over Norfolk.
"It felt good. Better command, struggled a little bit, but made an adjustment, ended up well," said Rodon, the third overall pick in this year's Draft. "After the second inning, [the adjustment was] just staying in the arm slot and trusting your stuff."
Rodon fanned five of the last six batters he faced, but he got off to a rocky start.
MLB.com's No. 22 overall prospect walked Dariel Alvarez and Francisco Peguero in the first and second, respectively. He followed Peguero's free pass by giving up a one-out double to Jimmy Paredes that put two runners in scoring position.
The 21-year-old left-hander limited the damage as Alexi Casilla grounded out to plate a run. An inning later, he struck out the side, getting the best of a battle with Major League veteran Jemile Weeks.
"[My slider] wasn't bad. A lot for strikes, need to work on getting it down. Something like a chase pitch. They were up and it's probably why they were fouling 'em off," Rodon said. "They had great approaches. Against Jemile Weeks, I don't know how many pitches I threw, I wanna say . That was a long at-bat. Finally got him out with a slider right down the middle."
The North Carolina State product was perfect the rest of the way, throwing 73 pitches in the longest outing of his brief professional career. He's held International League opponents to one run on one hit in both of his Triple-A starts.
"It was just nice and easy. I knew it was my last pitch," Rodon said after striking out Ivan De Jesus. "Gathered myself [on the mound] and it was smooth and came out good. It's just the pitch limit and I understand you've got to build up to get to those 100-pitch limits. It takes time."
After beginning the summer in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Rodon compiled a 1.86 ERA in four outings, including two starts, for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. He struck out seven over 3 2/3 frames in his final appearance with the Dash, eclipsing both of those numbers on Sunday.
With big league rosters set to expand on Sept. 1, White Sox manager Robin Ventura has not dismissed the idea of Rodon moving up to Chicago.
"If he's doing well enough to come up here, yeah," Ventura told MLB.com earlier this month. "We're trying to help us win. If he's available and he's ready to go, he's ready to go. I would like to see it, but he's got to be ready to go."
Rodon exited with a 2-1 lead, and the Knights got two-run homers from Jared Mitchell and Matt Davidson and solo shots from Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley. But Paredes came through with a two-out two-run double in the eighth to lift Norfolk into a 7-7 tie.
Michael Taylor answered a bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth to give Charlotte its third straight win.
"It's a great group. It's a younger team and a prospect-laden team, a lot of really talented guys, but we've definitely have had a lot of fun the last 2 1/2 months," Taylor said. "I think we have seven games left and we're just going to continue to do that, play winning baseball and see what happens."