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updated: 6/7/2014 4:44 PM

Third pick a can't-miss? Not so fast

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By Scot Gregor

Much like Chris Sale, Carlos Rodon can bring the heat.

The White Sox' No. 3 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft has a plus fastball that runs 93-95 mph, just like Sale.

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But top-end starting pitchers need a secondary pitch that is equal, or better, than the fastball, and Sale throws a changeup not seen from a major-league lefty since the Minnesota Twins' Johan Santana was making life miserable for opposing hitters a decade ago.

Maybe Sale and Sox pitching coach Don Cooper can help the left-handed Rodon perfect the changeup, but the newcomer has already separated himself from the rest of his young peers with a nasty slider.

"It's a good one," said Doug Laumann, the White Sox' director of amateur scouting. "It freezes left-handed hitters and the one thing I always try to look at, when they can bury a slider on the back foot of a right-handed hitter, and get it in under their hands, then you know a guy's got a really good one. It's certainly a dominant pitch, and that's not taking anything away from his fastball and his changeup, both of which are also plus pitches."

Rodon, who is represented by Scott Boras and appears to be in no hurry to sign with the Sox, said he learned how to throw the slider during his freshman year at North Carolina State.

"In high school, I threw a slurve, a slow, soft breaker," said Rodon, who was a combined 23-2 in three years at Holly Springs (N.C.) High School. "I finally got to N.C. State and freshman year, coach Tom Holliday and I started working on harder breakers. He said, 'You need a harder breaking ball.' We started kind of calling it a cutter and it had like a power slider, almost power curve depth. I learned it my freshman year in college."

Armed with the impressive slider, above-average fastball and improving changeup, Rodon is obviously expected to be an impact talent for the White Sox after going 25-10 with a 2.24 ERA and 8 complete games over his three-year career at North Carolina State.

Assuming he gets together with Boras and signs with the Sox in the next month or so, you could see Rodon in the Sox' bullpen later this summer and in the rotation next season.

The No. 3 overall pick should always be a can't-miss type of player, and Rodon fits the profile.

But there are no guarantees, as the last five No. 3 picks have shown. Let's take a look:

2013

Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies

The right-hander out of Oklahoma breezed through Rookie League and Class A ball last season, going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 9 starts.

This year, Gray is a so-so 6-3 with a 3.97 ERA through 11 starts at AA Tulsa.

2012

Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners

I like Zunino, a 22-year old catcher. So far, however, not so great.

Zunino made it to the majors last season and batted .214 with 5 home runs and 14 RBI in 52 games with the Mariners. Through 47 games this season, the University of Florida product had a subpar .228/.285/.420 hitting line with 7 homers and 22 RBI.

2011

Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks

This was not a good pick for the Snakes.

A No. 3 overall selection should be a franchise cornerstone, but Bauer was traded to the Indians in a three-way deal after the 2012 season.

Why?

Bauer had some mechanical and off-the-field issues, and the UCLA product was quickly dispatched to Cleveland. In his first 13 major-league starts with the Diamondbacks and Indians, Bauer was 3-6 with a 4.94 ERA.

I've seen him pitch against the White Sox and am confident in declaring Bauer a wasted pick at No. 3 overall.

2010

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

OK, we've got a serious player at No. 3.

The Orioles drafted Machado as a high school shortstop, but he moved to third base and was an all-star last year before going down with a serious knee injury while rounding first base in a September game at Tampa Bay.

Machado missed the first month of the current season, but he is back in Baltimore's lineup and is having a monster month of June.

2009

Donavan Tate, San Diego Padres

Can you say colossal bust?

Tate, a "toolsy" outfielder drafted out of high school for a whopping $6.25 million signing bonus under the watch of current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, is not playing this season after rupturing his Achilles tendon.

In a relatively short span, Tate has twice tested positive for drugs and has yet to advance above Class A ball.

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