When the Chicago White Sox decided to completely rebuild their team, the first trade that occurred was to send ace pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December of 2016. The cornerstone piece of that trade was Yoan Moncada, who at the time was rated the number one prospect in Major League Baseball. However, there were three other players included in the trade: Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz. While most of the speculation and jubilation was aimed at acquiring Moncada, another player in that trade is making waves.
Kopech, a former first round pick back in 2014, has been making decisions difficult for the Chicago White Sox, but in a good way. Despite having a good Spring Training, the team decided to send him down to Charlotte, their AAA affiliate. So far this season, the 22-year old has an 0-1 record, but has a 2.14 earned run average in 21 innings pitched. He has dominated the hitting down there as well, as he has 29 strikeouts against seven walks and has held opponents to a batting average under .200. There’s a reason that he is the number two prospect in the White Sox system, as well as the number one pitching prospect.
Considering the issues that have been going on with the White Sox starters this year, as everyone outside of Reynaldo Lopez has an ERA above 6.00, it would be extremely beneficial to the team to see what Kopech can do at the big league level. The team has stated that their goal this season is to further the on-going rebuilding process, and Kopech is considered to be a part of the rotation when the team is ready to compete. Even though Rick Hahn, the general manager of the team, isn’t exactly pleased with the win-loss record (Wednesday’s loss against the Mariners dropped the White Sox to a 5-16 record), he knows the rebuild is going to be worth it; just look at the two previous World Series winners.
A quick look at the White Sox starters statistics this year yields a giant problem. They are walking way too many batters. The four starters with the most innings pitched so far (James Shields, Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer) have walked 61 batters in 91.1 innings of work. An argument can be made the high uptick in walks has been due to the cold weather, but when two starters have more walks than strikeouts, it’s not exactly encouraging. Kopech has seven walks in 21 innings. Kopech has been building off the success he saw last season, where he saw action at both the AA and AAA levels.
This season is going to be focused on getting the plethora of prospects ready to compete at the major league level. Considering that Kopech has been dominating hitters at the AAA level, and the White Sox current starters have been underwhelming to say the least, it’s time to give him a shot. If the team really wants to develop their talent, why not call Kopech up now, let him work through the ups and downs of a rookie season, and see how he handles it?
Most analysts have speculated that Kopech would be in the majors sometime this year. At the rate he’s going, Kopech should be in the majors by the end of May, possibly sooner. What is there to lose?