White Sox: Michael Kopech had unlikely journey to the Big Leagues
White Sox top pitching prospect will make his major league debut on Tuesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Minnesota Twins.
On Tuesday, August 21, Michael Kopech will make his major league debut for the White Sox in Chicago against the Minnesota Twins.
While Kopech has always been a highly touted prospect and it was expected he’d make it to the big leagues, his journey has taken some interesting roads. In fact, he expected at one point to be wearing a different pair of “Sox” to the game.
Kopech – a native of Mount Highlands, Texas – was originally a first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox back in 2014. This came after originally committing to the University of Arizona, though he never played for the Wildcats. Two years later, Kopech was one of the main parts in one of the biggest trades the White Sox have had in recent years.
On December 6, 2016, in the trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston, Chicago acquired Kopech along with Luis Alexander Basabe, Victor Diaz, and – not to be forgotten – Yoan Moncada. While losing Sale was tough, many people in baseball thought of it as a win for the White Sox due to the prospects they acquired, namely Moncada and Kopech. One writer – Ian Browne – noted at the time of the trade that, ” The trade gives the White Sox a chance to build for the future with the two potential cornerstone players.”
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Kopech has had some ups and downs on his way to the big leagues both on and off the field.
In 2015, Kopech was suspended for 50 games as a result of using Oxilofrine. Oxilofrine has been described as, “A stimulant of the amphetamine class that is intended to treat low blood pressure, but side effects can include increased adrenaline production, improved endurance, focus, and heart rate…Currently on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances, it is considered a performance-enhancing drug.”
Kopech also got into a fistfight with a teammate. According to Scott Miller with Bleacher Report, Kopech:
"“[C]onnected with the back of his friend’s head and fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. His friend connected with his face, and Kopech says he broke his nose.”"
Kopech apologized for both instances and has not had any issues since.
On the positive side, Kopech is known for the speed at which he throws the ball.
In the same piece, Miller also said about Kopech:
"“I think he’s going to throw 107 mph. I really do. And not just once or twice a month.”"
If he could do so, Kopech will have surpassed Aroldis Chapman as the hardest thrower in MLB history. Kopech actually managed to throw a baseball 110 mph. Although it was in a drill in which he had a running start and was not in his pitching motion, people around baseball have taken notice.
Just before his debut, there’s still a lot of buzz around Kopech – who many believe can develop into a star. Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez is even excited about Kopech:
It remains to be seen how good Kopech will be, and Tuesday’s game certainly does not tell the whole story one way or another. Still, this is a moment many Sox fans have been wanting to see for quite some time.