The Red Sox are currently in Chicago taking on a 53-81 rebuilding White Sox team.
Despite the poor record, the White Sox do have some players worth watching, including tonight’s starting pitcher, Michael Kopech.
A former Red Sox prospect himself, Kopech may be mostly known for being part of the trade that sent ace left-hander Chris Sale to Boston, but I thought I would highlight some moments from his young career that saw him make his big league debut just a few weeks ago.
Selected by the Red Sox with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Mount Pleasant High School in Texas, Kopech forgoed his commitment to the University of Arizona and signed with Boston for a $1,500,000 bonus on June 17th.
Assigned to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox for his first professional season, the right-hander posted a 4.61 ERA and .216 BAA in eight starts and 13.2 innings pitched en route to a league title.
In 2015, Kopech made headlines for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a banned substance that violates the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Receiving a 50 game suspension because of the failed drug test on July 16th, the Texas native still posted a 2.65 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) over 65 innings pitched with the South Atlantic League’s Greenville Drive.
Less than a year later, Kopech’s name once again came up in the news, and not for positive reasons, as he got in an altercation with a teammate during spring training and ended up breaking his right hand.
Missing over four months of action because of the fractured throwing hand, the now 22-year-old made 12 starts between Low A Lowell and High A Salem while posting a 2.08 ERA to go along with 86 strikeouts in only 56.1 innings pitched.
That would end up being Kopech’s last season in the Red Sox organization, and he worked his way up to becoming the team’s best right-handed pitching prospect before he was traded on December 6th, 2016.
Along with top prospect Yoan Moncada, 24th ranked prospect Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz, Kopech was part of a blockbuster deal that ultimately landed the Red Sox the best left-hander in the game in Chris Sale from the White Sox.
In his first full season in the White Sox organization, not only was Kopech named the team’s best overall pitching prospect, he also made an appearance in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game in Miami, where he tossed a scoreless third inning.
On the 2017 campaign as a whole, the former first round pick posted a 2.88 ERA in 134.1 innings pitched between Double A Birmingham and Triple A Charlotte while being named the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.
Entering this season as Chicago’s top pitching prospect once again, Kopech made 24 starts with the Charlotte Knights where he struck out 170 batters in 126.1 innings pitched before getting promoted to the White Sox.
Getting the call up on August 21st, the right-hander’s debut was shorter than expected due to a rain delay, but he struck out four Twins while scattering three hits over two scoreless innings of work.
Five days later, Kopech was back at it again, this time against the Detroit Tigers, where he pitched six innings of one-run ball to go along with another four punch outs and his first big league win.
And that is where things stand today.
Michael Kopech will be making his third career start Friday night, and it will come against the toughest opponent he has yet to face in the Boston Red Sox.
First pitch of tonight’s game is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.