The time has finally come for Michael Kopech.
The Chicago White Sox announced on Sunday they have called up their top pitching prospect from Triple-A Charlotte to start against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. The 22-year old has posted some impressive numbers this year in Triple-A. Kopech is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA this season with the Knights while striking out an astounding 170 hitters in just 126.1 innings pitched. Command will make or break Kopech at the big league level. He’s walked 60 batters in those 126.1 innings so he will look to sharpen his command in the majors.
Chicago White Sox Call up Flamethrower Michael Kopech
MLB Pipeline’s no. 13 overall prospect, Kopech was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in 2016 that sent Sale to the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted in the first round out of a Texas High School in 2014 with the 33rd overall pick by Boston.
Kopech flew onto the scene after that trade in 2016, where he was sitting consistently in the high 90s with his heater. After an intense workout program that included heavy weight training and weighted ball programs, it wasn’t long until Kopech was hitting triple digits:
When you throw as hard as Kopech does, there’s no doubt you rely on your fastball. His heater has been clocked as high as 105 mph at times, which makes him one of the hardest throwers in all of professional baseball. He gets a nice downward plane towards the plate thanks to his 6’3”, 205 lbs frame. The fastball has some filthy late run, which makes it very hard for hitters to find a barrel.
He also throws a hard slider, that sits in the high 80s, occasionally touching 90. It’s a plus offering that has great movement. It’s a pitch that hitters have an extremely difficult time hitting because he throws it hard and it has a very sharp break. Kopech also throws a changeup that has shown flashes of brilliance at times with some sink to it, but it’s a fairly inconsistent pitch for him. He tends to rely more on the fastball and slider that are both above average major league pitches.
Kopech already throws extremely hard, but he makes it even tougher for hitters because he has a deceptive delivery. He hides the ball very well until he’s at his release point, making it hard for opposing lineups to pick up the ball and pick up what type of pitch is coming. The hard-throwing righty uses his lower half very well in his windup and generates a lot of power from his legs. Kopech tends to get wild at times when he rushes his delivery and gets his lower body going a little too quick, resulting in flying open and missing up in the strike zone with the fastball and slider.
Command is key
The key for Kopech will be his command. He needs to make sure he can get ahead of hitters and focus on throwing first-pitch strikes. Even if he has to tone it down to the high 90’s, that’s still very quick and difficult to square up even for major league hitters.
He certainly has all the stuff to be a front of the line big league starter. If he can really develop his changeup to be at least an average major league offering, it will make him that much better knowing he has two quality off-speed pitches to compliment his triple-digit fastball.
It’s going to be exciting to see Michael Kopech finally pitch in the big leagues.
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