By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — The legend of White Sox prospect Michael Kopech began in January, when the 20-year-old flame-throwing right-hander was captured on video throwing 110 mph from flat ground with a running start. The clip went viral, creating a stir around baseball.
On Tuesday, Kopech was again throwing heat, but he was also taking plenty of it back from the Mariners’ lineup. Facing a level of hitting talent he hasn’t encountered in the lower levels of the minor leagues, Kopech allowed four runs on three hits and a walk in one inning. That included a double by Nelson Cruz and a homer by Mitch Haniger.
It was a tough first outing with the White Sox for Kopech, who was acquired in the December trade that sent ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
“There were some pitches that needed to be made that were not,” Kopech said of his pitch location. “Obviously, the home run was an issue. Cruz hit a good shot off of the wall. I just need to execute better. Early, I felt good. I think I got in my own way after a little bump did not go my way. The name of the game is executing pitches. I did not do that today.”
Nobody is expecting Kopech to be in the big leagues anytime soon, as he’ll likely start the season at high Class-A. The White Sox’s hope is he can put in quality work there and earn a promotion to Double-A later in the season.
Despite being shelled, the confident Kopech emphasized he wasn’t intimidated Tuesday.
“Of course they are good hitters,” Kopech said. “That is not something I really pay attention to. There are a couple of guys in that lineup I actually know. They are all good hitters. It was an honor facing them, but I really never thought about that getting ready for the game.”
Kopech and everyone in the White Sox organization understands it will take time for him to development and that the minor leagues are best for him for some time.
“Nobody is trying to hide where he starts the season,” Renteria said. “I am sure he is aware of it as well. He is more concerned about doing well and executing pitches. If they do what they have to do, they all know they will be here (in the big leagues) soon enough.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.