Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech on the mound for the Knights, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Michael Kopech on the mound for the Knights, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Position: RHP
Born: 4/30/1996
Ht: 6'3'' Wt: 205
Acquired: Received from Boston in Chris Sale trade, 12/6/2016
Career Stats

FutureSox Prospect Rankings

  • #3 - 2017 Preseason
  • #3 - 2017 Midseason
  • #2 - 2018 Preseason
  • #2 - 2018 Midseason
  • #2 - 2019 Preseason

FutureSox Media

Accolades

  • South Atlantic League All Star, Midseason 2015
  • #89 Prospect in MLB, 2016 Preseason (Baseball America)
  • Named to 2016 AFL Rising Stars Game
  • 2016 AFL All-Prospect Team
  • #8 prospect in Carolina League, 2016 (Baseball America)
  • #32 Prospect in MLB, Preseason 2017 (Baseball America)
  • #16 Prospect in MLB, Preseason 2017 (MLB Pipeline)
  • #36 Prospect in MLB, Preseason 2017 (Baseball Prospectus)
  • Best Fastball among all MLB prospects, Preseason 2017 (Baseball America)
  • Pitching Prospect of the Month, May 2017
  • Southern League All Star, Midseason 2017
  • Futures Game participant, 2017
  • #20 Prospect in MLB, Midseason 2017 (Baseball America)
  • #25 Prospect in MLB, Midseason 2017 (Bsaeball Prospectus)
  • #3 Prospect in the Southern League, 2017 post-season (Baseball America)
  • Best Fastball in White Sox system, 2018 (Baseball America)
  • #10 Prospect in MLB, Pre-season 2018 (MLB Pipeline)
  • #11 Prospect in MLB, Pre-season 2018 (Baseball America)
  • #17 Prospect in MLB, Pre-season 2018 (Baseball Prospectus)
  • White Sox Pitching Prospect of the Month, April 2018
  • #13 Prospect in MLB, Midseason 2018 (Baseball America)
  • #2 Prospect in the International League, post-season 2018 (Baseball America)
  • Best Fastball in the International League, post-season 2018 (Baseball America)

Scouting Report

Drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft as a Texas prep, Kopech shot up prospects lists thanks to an incredible 2016 season. Featuring a fastball that has been clocked as high as 102 MPH, Kopech was electric over 56.1 innings that season, striking out 86 batters and posting a 2.08 ERA. He followed up on that performance by dominating more advanced hitters with a 2.01 ERA in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 26 batters over 22.1 innings while walking 8. That is an encouraging sign because he has walked 4.6 batter per 9 innings over his first 134.2 pro innings. When you factor in that he was striking out an absurd 13.7 batters per 9 and his low ERA (2.61), it is obvious that Kopech's command is lagging behind his lights out stuff. In 2017, Kopech was given a challenging assignment to AA Birmingham as a 20-year-old, and he not only handled it, he knocked it out of the park: 2.87 ERA, 11.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 (but it went down as he went on), and then a promotion to AAA for 3 starts (15 IP, 15 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 17 K). As a 20/21-year-old. In 2018, he battled some wildness in the Knights rotation for a while as he made some adjustments, but by July was again his dominant self. His last seven starts in AAA: 44 IP, 39 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, 59 K. He then made his MLB debut and showed early signs of that same dominance before, unfortunately, going down after his 4th start with a torn UCL and subsequent Tommy John surgery. He will miss all of 2019.

Kopech's arsenal is built around the aforementioned fastball, which he will go triple digits with but sits comfortably in the 95-99 MPH range. Despite the outstanding velocity, Kopech features a fairlydelivery with no major mechanical red flags to speak of. Most of his command issues stem from timing, as his arm extension snaps across his body and drives him off line from the plate. If the White Sox are able to smooth out that issue, and perhaps back him off his fastball a MPH tick or two, he could conceivably command mid-to-upper 90's velocity with wicked movement. Beyond the fastball, Kopech features two raw but promising secondary pitches that project plus. He throws an 86-90 MPH slider that has sharp break that he can throw for strikes or bury, especially effective against left-handed batters. Kopech's third offering is a 91-93 MPH change-up that he has shown a solid feel for and is devastating for hitters expecting the triple digits fastball. He also mixes in a 2-seam fastball in the low 90's to challenge timing and add some cut action, and in AAA even added back a curveball from his high school days (just for fun apparently). At 6'3'' and 205 pounds and still filling out, Kopech is an impressive physical specimen and an elite athlete. He is not afraid to be aggressive and go after hitters, showing a competitive intensity that sometimes gets the best of him. Armed with a legendary fastball, vicious secondary stuff, and a strong frame, some scouts view Kopech as a potential front of the rotation starter. The unfortunate injury certainly isn't a good thing, but the prognosis is a high chance of returning to the same filthy stuff, if not in 2020 then shortly after.

Major League Outlook: Front end starter ceiling
ETA: Late 2018

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