White Sox Prospect Michael Kopech Has Electric Stuff
The White Sox number three prospect should get the call to the big leagues sooner rather than later
Michael Kopech is just 21 years old, but he has the fastball of some of the best pitchers in the big leagues. The Texas native was taken by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2014 draft, and was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade in the off-season.
Kopech is having a solid campaign for the Birmingham Barons, the Double
A affiliate of the White Sox. The hard throwing righty has struck out 101 hitters in just 78.1 innings. A triple digit fastball is something that will always light the eyes up, and that’s exactly what Kopech brings to the table.
Kopech has had issues with control during his minor league career, including this year where he’s walked 53 hitters in those 78.1 innings with an ERA just over four. This is part of the reason he isn’t quite ready to be a big leaguer, but he is very close.
He has four above average major league pitches, led by a fastball that has reached up to 105 mph. His fastball has some late arm side tail and great life that can get in on the hands of right handed hitters. Between the fact that Kopech throws triple digits, and the pitch has movement, it’s been tough for hitters to square up the heater. Fastball command has been an issue for Kopech though. He tends to get behind hitters and leaves fastballs up in the zone when behind in the count, resulting in getting hit around at times. When he’s on with the fastball, he is practically impossible to hit. He also throws a two seamer that’s in the works, but cause of his arm slot, the pitch tends to generate some cutting action.
He compliments the fastball with a sharp slider that sits in the low 90's. It has very sharp break, and projects as an above average major league slider. His changeup is the one that really made me say wow when I watched him pitch in the Futures game on Sunday. the changeup has disgusting movement. The pitch totally falls off the table, dropping immensely when coming into the zone. If he can command the pitch, it’ll be a great secondary to the fastball and slider.
Kopech has a very clean delivery, and for a guy who throws so hard, his delivery is quite effortless. This is definitely a positive sign that Kopech can remain a starter at the big league level. He’s very athletic on the mound, and fields his position extremely well.
Like I said above, command has been an issue for the young White Sox prospect. When I watched the Futures game on Sunday, Kopech came in to pitch in the third inning for the USA team. If this outing for Kopech was a glimpse into the future for White Sox fans, they should be ecstatic. Command didn’t look to be an issue whatsoever. He was spotting up with 100 mph on the corners, along with his filthy slider and changeup. He even got to face fellow White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada, and blew him away with three fastballs, including two that were painted on the outside corner. Take a look:
If Kopech can refine his command to pitch like he did in the futures game, there is no doubt he will be a star. Even with his command right now, eventually he will get the call up to the big leagues, but if he can spot up with triple digits at the knees and on the corners of the strike zone, no one will touch him at the next level.
Overall Kopech has had quite the minor league career thus far. He has a 3.12 ERA across three seasons, striking out an astounding 273 hitters in just 213 innings pitched.
He is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball for a reason. This kid has electric stuff, and it’s only going to get better as he improves his ability to be around the strike zone with all four offerings on a consistent basis.
Don’t be surprised if you see Michael Kopech in a White Sox uniform very soon and eventually, a front-line starter for the big league club.