(CBS) Prior to the start of the 2017 season, White Sox officials gave prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech a set of expectations.
There were two main points of emphasis on the agenda for Kopech, who turned 21 in April. They wanted him to display reliability as his workload increased and attack at Double-A, a level that’s viewed as a significant jump in a prospect’s development.
Consider both tasks done.
In his first season at Double-A, Kopech has a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 145 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings. That workload has far surpassed his previous career-high of 65 innings in 2015, and it has left White Sox general manager Rick Hahn greatly enthused.
“At the top of the list for Michael at the start of this season would essentially be one, take the ball every fifth day,” Hahn said in an interview with Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Thursday. “Which is something he hasn’t done yet as a pro, which I think people lose sight of. Two, it’s ideally continue to compete at the advanced placement level that we put him in at age 20, 21, putting him in the Double-A Southern League. And he surpassed both of those with flying colors. Not only has he been able to take the ball every fifth day and thereby surpassed his innings max over the last few years. But even as he’s passed that amount and gone into uncharted territory for himself, he’s actually, as you referenced, improved over the last five or six starts.
“He has not shown any ill effects from having gone past that innings mark, which you do see over the course of other players’ development. So even if his season were to end here today or if he only ends up making three or four more starts, whatever he’s got left on the schedule, I think it’s safe to say it’s been an extremely successful season for Michael despite being placed at a challenging and advanced level for his age.”
Listen to Hahn’s full interview below.