White Sox

Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

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Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

Rounds 2-16 of the MLB Draft are underway on Tuesday, and the White Sox have sprung for pitching and up-the-middle position players so far. Here's a look at who the Sox selected today:

Round 2, Pick 76: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern University

From the MLB.com scouting report, it sounds like Beck has three fairly well-developed pitches, but the report says he doesn't always throw like a power pitcher despite a fastball that tops out at 94 mph. In 103 23 innings for GSU, Beck posted a 3.91 ERA with 115 strikeouts, 29 walks and 11 home runs allowed in 103 23 innings.

Round 3, Pick 108: Joey DeMichele, 2B, Arizona State University

For a second baseman, DeMichele has shown decent power, hitting 15 home runs in just under 400 at-bats in the last two years (stats go up to Memorial Day). He's a low-strikeout player who doesn't walk a ton, relying mostly on contact skills to boost his OBP near .400 with the Sun Devils.

Round 4, Pick No. 141: Brandon Brennan, RHP, Orange Coast College (Calif.)

Brennan was a 40th-round pick of the Rockies in 2010 but opted to attend the University of Oregon, where he spent one year before transferring to Orange Coast College. Here's a YouTube clip of the right-hander from earlier this year:

Round 5, Pick No. 171: Nick Basto, SS, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Fla.)

Per South Florida Sun-Sentinel preps reporter Dieter Kurtenbach, Basto, who's committed to FIU, intends to turn pro -- although the Sox will have to squeeze him in under their bonus cap to make that happen. Video:

Round 6, Pick No. 201: Kyle Hansen, RHP, St. John's University

The brother of former Red Sox and Pirates reliever Craig Hansen, the younger Hansen appears destined to land in the bullpen despite working as a starter in college. MLB.com's report describes a good fastball-slider combo with a change that needs refinement, which sounds pretty typical of a pitching prospect who ultimately will wind up being used as a reliever.

Round 7, Pick No. 231: Jose Barraza, C, Sunnyside High School (Calif.)

Barraza cracked Baseball America's top 500 draft prospects list at No. 472, and per FutureSox, he's not committed to a college. That doesn't necessarily mean the Sox have a better chance at signing him, as JuCo is always an option.

Round 8, Pick No. 261: Zach Isler, RHP, University of Cincinnati

Pitching nearly exclusively in relief, Isler struck out 55 in 55 innings with 26 walks during his junior year at Cincinnati, but he has a mid-90s fastball that could play with some development.

Round 9, Pick No. 291: Micah Johnson, 2B, University of Indiana

Johnson put together a fine 2010 (.335.402.474) before an elbow injury stunted his growth in 2011. He only played in 24 games and didn't hit well, perhaps a product of his injury. Could be an interesting guy to watch if he gets back to his pre-2012 trajectory.

Round 10, Pick No. 321: Brandon Hardin, RHP, Delta State University (Miss.)

No, not the Bears' rookie safety. He struggled as a starter but excelled as a reliever, where he'll probably end up in the White Sox system.

Round 11, Pick No. 351: Eric Jaffe, RHP, UCLA

A 19th-round pick of Boston in the 2010 MLB Draft, he transferred from Cal to UCLA and didn't pitch a whole lot while on campus. He's a big guy (6-foot-4, 235 lbs.) who pitches in relief. Video:

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.

Why Michael Kopech almost quit baseball: Revelations from the future White Sox star

Why Michael Kopech almost quit baseball: Revelations from the future White Sox star

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A failed PED test. A 50-game suspension. A fight with a former teammate. A broken pitching hand.

It all blew up like that for Michael Kopech in one calendar year.

And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

“There have been points where I wanted to quit baseball. There have been points where I wanted to stop trying,” Kopech said Thursday in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

This was the breaking point that almost ended Kopech’s career before it truly began but would eventually change his life for the better once the storms passed.

“Everything felt like it was on me at once, and it was tough because I had just gotten through the suspension, worked my butt off all offseason, came back to spring training in the best shape I had ever been in, and then broke my hand the first day of spring,” Kopech explained. “More than anything, I was frustrated and knew I wasn’t making anything better for myself and I was ready to get out of there.”

How long was he in this mode of possibly quitting baseball?

“Probably a couple weeks.”

The PED suspension in 2015 was for the stimulant Oxilofrine, which has been found in supplements which Kopech says he didn’t knowingly take.

“We do have certifications that we’re supposed to follow. We’re supposed to make sure that everything we take or put in our bodies is certified, and I probably wasn’t as safe as I should have been on that. I do take responsibility on that, and I regret it. But it’s part of the past and I did learn from it, so I can’t be too upset about it now and dwell on the past.”

The fight wasn’t only with Kopech’s teammate. It was also with his roommate.  

“It was a good friend of mine I was trying to help out. Things went south and he took a couple swings at me and I took one swing back. It just happened to not be a very good punch,” Kopech said. “I’ve accepted that I messed up. He accepted it as well. I’m open about it because it’s in the past and I’ve learned from it. But I’m not too proud to say I made a mistake. Fortunately, he’s still with the Red Sox and doing well over there. I think it didn’t alter our careers negatively, but maybe we both matured quite a bit from it and somehow, someway altered it positively. He’s still one of my good buddies.”

To say that Kopech’s dream is to make the major leagues would be limiting. He has a strong desire not only to be great but to be one of the all-time greats.

You can’t always pinpoint where a person’s ambition comes from. Kopech thinks it was from his torturous year as a nomad, out of baseball with a broken hand and a broken soul.

“Everybody talks about that itch to get back to spring training. When you have that for 12 straight months, it just grows and grows and grows,” Kopech said. “There’s going to be adversity coming your way in baseball. Learning from the adversity off the field is one of the tougher things I’ve ever had to do. Having all that come at once forced me to learn from it. I probably was a little stubborn and hard-headed at first, but taking a year off baseball, all you have time to do is think, anyway. I put myself in much better positions, became a lot more mindful about the game, and I feel like it has a lot to do with who I am today.”

Partly what changed him, and frankly might have saved him, was learning how to meditate. It’s a practice he learned from Red Sox mental performance coach Justin Su’a soon after the fateful fight with his teammate.

“It put me in a mental state that I never experienced. It’s almost like a flow state when I pitch but a lot calmer, so I got hooked on meditating and it took me away from the negativity of all that,” Kopech said. “I realized that my mind is my most powerful tool. I got addicted to this feeling that came from me being a more mindful athlete rather than just a powerful athlete or an athlete that throws 100 miles per hour. It took me away from being this guy that’s one dimensional to the outside public and made me have a lot more self value than Michael Kopech the baseball player.”

Kopech meditates before every start. Where exactly?

“For the most part, I’ll go find a closet or empty room somewhere in the stadium where I can zone out,” he said. “But even if it’s close to the clubhouse and I hear a little chatter that’s fine because the type of meditating I do focuses a little on background noise and helps my mind get to the place where I need it to get.”

It’s become such a powerful tool, he believes it gives him a distinct advantage over the hitter when he's on the mound.

“It’s tapping into this part of your mind that most people can’t dive into, and what’s funny is pitching is like cheating to me. When I pitch, the first batter I see with the stadium full of people, I’m in that state. Most people have to work their whole lives to feel that type of dopamine rush. Whatever it is actually, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know the feeling and I get it instantly when I take the mound. For me, that’s why I love the game because it makes me feel alive.”

It's a purpose and passion that has been reborn. Living proof that Kopech's mind is maybe all that matters.