Throughout the Major League Baseball world, all eyes will be on the South Side of Chicago tonight. An absolutely wild thought, considering the White Sox are dead last in attendance and have one of the worst records in baseball. Tonight, none of that matters, as Chicago fans get their wish. The night they’ve all been waiting for. Michael Kopech has arrived from Triple-A Charlotte, and will be making his big-league debut vs. the Minnesota Twins.
Kopech was acquired by the Chicago White Sox along with Yoan Moncada, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for LHP Chris Sale and is the top pitching prospect in the Chicago White Sox organization. Rated the No. 13 prospect by MLB.com, Kopech is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA for the Charlotte Knights, but he is 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his last seven starts and leads the minor leagues with 170 strikeouts.
But Kopech’s arm and talent do not come quietly and without concern. When Kopech was 19 years old, he was suspended 50 games by the MLB for violating their drug policy when he tested positive for Oxilofrine, a performance enhancing drug. Six months after Kopech finished his 50 game suspension it was reported that Kopech had broken his hand during an altercation with a roommate during minor league camp with the Boston Red Sox. For nearly two years, Kopech dated Brielle Biermann, daughter of Real Housewife of Atlanta Kim Zolciak-Biermann until they split up in March 2018. Since then, this minor league rock-star has rebounded quite well as he is now dating Canadian actress Vanessa Morgan, best known for her role on the hit show Riverdale.
So how good is he actually going to be on the mound? “Really good. Really good. We’re going to have one of the best prospects in the game with us,” said White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez through interpreter Billy Russo of Kopech’s arrival. “He’s one of the best and everybody thinks he’s supposed to be a superstar and we’re all excited.” Minor league catcher Kevan Smith told reporters “Any guy that steps in the box, they’re going to, for one, feel his presence out on the mound.” Kevan would know, considering Kopech clocks in at 100mph on the radar gun regularly in the minors.
I cannot stress enough how important Kopech is going to be to the Chicago White Sox organization during their rebuild. They need him to be their ace. They cannot afford to miss on this arm. Kopech will be under team control for 7 years before he is eligible for free agency. The idea for the White Sox is to get seven solid seasons out of him, and not three seasons where he is working out his kinks and then four good years. If they are bringing him up now, that means he’s ready. Kopech will feature an A+ fastball that has been clocked at as high as 105mph, and two above average off-speed pitches (curveball and change-up).
Biggest concern in my opinion? Innings. The right-hander has thrown 126.1 innings—about eight shy of his career high 134.1. With rosters expanding to 40 players in 10 days, its more than likely Kopech is here for the rest of 2018. This is the type of arm that doesn’t come around often. If Kopech can keep his mind on the game of baseball and off social media, Chicago fans should expect to win a lot of games with this man on the rubber. Kopech will wear number 34.