The Chicago White Sox took another step in their rebuild on Sunday when they announced the promotion of starting pitcher Michael Kopech from Triple-A Charlotte.
Kopech will make his Major League debut Tuesday night starting against the Minnesota Twins at home. He is the team’s second-best prospect and is ranked 13th on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects List. The promotion will be something to keep an eye on for not only this season but the 2019 season also.
The White Sox acquired Kopech in the Chris Sale trade in December of 2016. In return for Sale, the team got back Yoan Moncada, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz, and him. Kopech is regarded as one of best pitching prospects due to a 100mph fastball, slider, and now added a change-up to his pitching arsenal. The last two seasons he has been in the minors as the team’s goal has been to develop him more into a pitcher rather than just a hard thrower.
Kopech’s promotion was needed after he had all but proven his dominance at the Triple-A level as he had pitched six or more innings in his last four starts. Even more impressive was that he had not allowed a single walk in his last three starts before being called-up. Kopech has spent the entire year in Charlotte as he made 24 starts while compiling a 3.70 ERA. He was averaging seven strikeouts per start and currently has a WHIP of 1.274.
With just 38 games remaining in the 2018 season, Kopech will most likely make five to seven starts depending on his performances and durability. The White Sox will be more conservative with their young pitcher and will shut him down for a precautionary purpose is any injury or fatigue is shown. Their main goal for the rest of the season is to get Kopech acclimated to Major League hitting and give him the experience to have a jumpstart in preparation for the 2019 season.
If there are no major setbacks in his 2018 performance, Kopech will be assured a spot in the team’s 2019 starting rotation and be given the whole year to start similar to what is now being done with pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. The key for the White Sox rebuild is to get their starting rotation determined before the 2020 season when they are projected to compete again. Kopech, Lopez, and Giolito will be joined by Carlos Rodon and later on other prospect pitchers Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning.
The promotion raised questions about his service time as that is one of the key factors as to why the team’s number one prospect in outfielder Eloy Jimenez has not been called up yet. When it comes to dealing with service time involving starting pitchers, general manager Rick Hahn has proven experience. The White Sox GM has signed pitchers like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana to team-friendly long-term deals after one or two years. The move has been wise as it allowed the team to get more value when trading their pitchers away for prospects.
Tuesday night will be a big night for everyone that is associated with the White Sox organization from team personnel, the media, and the fans. The arrival of Kopech shows that the team is just one step closer to possibly competing in the near future. No matter what happens in the debut, All eyes will be on the White Sox best pitching prospect from here until the end of September.