The White Sox will promote top pitching prospect Michael Kopech on Tuesday, the team announced on its official Twitter feed. The 22-year-old right-hander will make his Major League debut in a start against the Twins.
Picked 33rd overall by the Red Sox in the 2014 draft, Kopech was already considered one of the game’s top young arms when Boston dealt him as part of the blockbuster prospect package sent to Chicago in exchange for ace southpaw Chris Sale in December 2016. Kopech made his Double-A and Triple-A debuts in the White Sox farm system, and he has posted a 3.63 ERA, 11.9 K/9, and 2.88 K/BB rate over 141 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
Those numbers also include some control issues, such as a 4.3 BB/9 this season, and Kopech’s 2018 season has been marred by a few rough outings. Kopech recently discussed his year with The Athletic’s James Fegan, which has seen him deal with some off-the-field tragedy while also working on such mechanical issues as a new grip for his changeup, and a slower delivery. His delivery was cited as a concern in scouting reports from both MLB.com and Baseball America, with BA noting that Kopech’s delivery is a reason for “his below-average command and control.”
Still, despite these issues, both MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Kopech as the 13th-best prospect in baseball due to his massive potential. (Fangraphs also had him 16th on their updated top-100 prospect rankings, with ESPN’s Keith Law ranking Kopech 11th and Baseball Prospectus ranking him 17th in their preseason top-100 lists.) If Kopech is able to refine his changeup, it would be his third pitch to go along with a slider that MLB.com calls a “plus-plus offering as its best,” as well as Kopech’s signature pitch, a blazing fastball. Kopech has cracked triple digits with his heater and regularly throws it in the 96-99mph range.
Kopech has long been considered one of the jewels of the White Sox rebuild, and the decision to promote him at this point means that he’ll get an audition towards becoming a regular rotation member in 2019. With Kopech now reaching the big leagues, it only creates more anticipation towards the potential debut of Chicago’s top prospect, slugger Eloy Jimenez.