Summer Collegiate : : Story
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Team USA prospect breakdown

Kendall Rogers        
Competing for the USA Collegiate National Team is the highest of honors. It also requires the nation’s elite players and prospects most accustomed to embracing high expectations.

Team USA couldn’t have been much more impressive this summer. The team that head coach Jim Schlossnagle, his staff and USA Baseball executives assembled was balanced and included plenty of stars.

The roster included North Carolina State junior left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon. Rodon had an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Wolfpack, and like he did in the spring, the hard-nosed lefty showed off his elite low-to-mid 90s fastball, along with the rest of repertoire.

While Rodon leads the charge for Team USA in the prospect category, he certainly wasn’t alone this summer as the Americans went 20-3 with a five-game sweep over Cuba, the only negative a road series loss to a very good Japanese club.

UNLV right-handed pitcher Erick Fedde and TCU right-handed flamethrower Riley Ferrell improved their stock a great deal, while LSU shortstop Alex Bregman consistently showed off his elite offensive skills.

We begin our in-depth summer prospect coverage with a complete breakdown of Team USA’s top-20 prospects.

1. Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State (Draft eligible: 2014)

The exceptional 6-foot-3, 234-pound, junior left-handed pitcher has had quite a whirlwind past few months. Rodon entered his sophomore campaign with the Wolfpack with high hopes in the spring, but it took him a while to get going, as evidenced by some early command issues. Rodon only got better as the spring progressed, pitching exceptionally well down the stretch and in the College World Series with a fastball anywhere from 93-97 in Omaha.

Well, Rodon only continued his impressive ways this summer while pitching for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Rodon didn’t allow a run in four starts and 17 innings of work, while also striking out 21 and walking four. From a prospect standpoint, Rodon is the clear-cut favorite to be the top pick in the 2014 MLB draft. In addition to having a durable frame, Rodon possesses a hard-nosed, come at you type of attitude, along with elite stuff. He pitched off his fastball quite a bit this summer, a pitch that has some late, exploding life on it at times. Rodon also utilized an 85-87 slider with two-plane break, while that pitch also was up to 89 at times. Last but not least, Rodon used a low-80s changeup, a pitch that many would like him to use more in the latter innings come spring. Overall, Rodon’s near impeccable fastball command reminded some close to USA Baseball to former Vanderbilt start left-handed pitcher David Price, while he showed much more confidence in his slider as the summer progressed.

Rodon’s freshman campaign in 2012 convinced many of us that he was clearly the top prospect in the 2014 MLB draft college class. Then, we had a second thought when he started slow out of the gate for the Wolfpack in the spring. But now, after such a dominance performance with Team USA, the gritty and durable lefty is right back where he started his collegiate career.

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