Wolfpack's Rodon still aiming for late-year surge

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm •  Published: May 8, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Even as the losses add up, North Carolina State's Carlos Rodon is pitching with the same workhorse approach that has made him a candidate to be the No. 1 overall draft pick.

The junior left-hander is still hoping to lead a late-season surge in a disappointing season for N.C. State, which entered the year hoping to return to the College World Series but is currently fighting just to qualify for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

"I get to play baseball every day," Rodon said. "I don't have to sit at a desk or just go to school and study every day. I'm lucky to come out here and sit in the sun and play baseball. That's the fun part about it. I'm still a little kid when I play this game."

Rodon is likely to make his final home start Friday against Wake Forest. He entered the week tied for fifth nationally with 102 strikeouts, while ranking second in the ACC in innings pitched (86.2) and ERA (1.87).

Last year, Rodon set a program record with 184 strikeouts while helping the Wolfpack reach Omaha for the first time since 1968. This year's team held a No. 5 preseason ranking, though N.C. State (27-20, 9-15) has yet to secure a spot in the 10-team league tournament.

Rodon entered the season as Baseball America's No. 1 prospect for this June's amateur draft after going 19-3 in his first two years. Rodon (4-7) now sits at No. 3 behind two high school pitchers in a season marred by a lack of run support and defensive mistakes behind him.

"You can nitpick and find things to complain about if you want," said Aaron Fitt, Baseball America's national college writer. "The fact of the matter is, he's left-handed. He's got the best pitch in college baseball with his slider. He's got an incredible track record of success and big-game success. He's incredible fierce and competitive. All that stuff is in place."