The Chicago White Sox have called up their top pitching prospect Michael Kopech to start on Tuesday versus the Minnesota Twins. Kopech, 22, has a 3.70 ERA in Triple-A and is ranked the #13 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.Com. Let’s take a closer look at Kopech in a complete prospect breakdown.
Kopech was drafted by the Red Sox with the 33rd overall pick in the draft. After putting up two dominant seasons with a combined 2.36 ERA between Low-A and High-A, Boston shipped him off to the White Sox as part of the Chris Sale trade. He put together another solid season in 2017, with a 2.88 ERA and an 11.5 K/9.He started off slow and struggled with command in Triple-A early on this season, but he has a 2.08 ERA and an impressive 59-4 K-BB ratio in his last six starts. Something has clearly clicked for him, which is why the White Sox were finally able to promote who they believe is their future ace.
Kopech three-pitch mix is headline by his 80-grade fastball. He can throw it 96-99 MPH and can reach 100+ MPH. However, it’s the late life on his fastball that makes it 80 grade. Kopech also throws a plus slider that is extremely filthy and can literally humiliate hitters. It has a very sharp late break to it, which makes it very hard to recognize. Kopech changeup has some break to it, but right now he’s a little too consistent with it. Overall, Kopech stuff is exceptional and there’s no question that it will be effective in the majors.
The biggest concern with Kopech has always been his control. Despite having excellent mechanics, he hasn’t been able to have consistent command. His WHIP has never been below 1.00 and his BB/9 has been it 4.0s the last two seasons. The only way to explain this may that he is a little too quick with his delivery, and throws more with his arm than his legs at times. Walks will probably haunt him at the MLB level, but at least his 59-4 K-BB ratio in his last 6 starts suggests he may have finally turned a corner with his control.
Many scouts have compared Kopech to Noah Syndergaard, and it’s easy to see why. Both can throw over 100 MPH with easy and possess a wipeout slider. However, Syndergaard’s command is significantly better than Kopech’s, so making the comparison incorrect for now. However, that and Justin Verlander is Kopech ceiling if he can figure out his command, as he has potential to become an ace. A middle ground and better comparison for him would be Chris Archer, as both have an excellent fastball-slider combination, struggle with walks, and both have similar frames. If Kopech can never live up to the hype, his two-pitch mix would give him a chance to be an excellent reliever, but that is definitely his floor.
With Kopech Is excellent stuff and solid frame, it’s easy to see why he’s received so many hypes from scouts. The command is concerning, however, and may hold him back from ever being an ace. I believe he’s destined to be a #2 starter at the next level, as he will at times be unhittable and at times just completely lose command. That potential inconsistency prevents him from leading a pitching staff, but I still believe in the fastball-slider combination enough to believe that he’ll be a solid #2-#3 starter for the White Sox for years to come.