Michael Kopech is ready for his big league moment.
It might not come for a while, perhaps deep into the 2018 campaign, but if one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball gets the news tomorrow that he's going to start the season on the South Side, his reaction will be obvious: Bring it on.
"I feel like I'm ready," Kopech told reporters Thursday during a visit to a children's hospital ahead of this weekend's SoxFest festivities. "I'm not going to say that I should be there and I deserve to be there because I haven't earned anything yet. But I feel like I'm ready if I get the call.
"I don't want to be someone who when I get the call is shaken up, nervous, overwhelmed, whatever. I want to feel prepared. And I feel like I am."
For both long-term developmental and financial reasons, it would figure that Kopech will begin the season in the minor leagues. But his performance at Double-A Birmingham last season has plenty of fans thinking he's ready to star in the major league rotation.
In 22 starts for the Barons, Kopech posted a 3.39 ERA with 155 strikeouts in 119.1 innings of work. In three more starts at Triple-A Charlotte, he allowed five runs and struck out 17 hitters in 15 innings.
And so the question has become: When will Kopech reach the majors and join Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez on the South Side starting staff?
"I just defer those questions to Rick Hahn," he said with a smile, playfully putting his general manager on the spot. "Not really my call there. Like I said, I'll do what I can control. For the most part, I'm just going to go into camp every start and take the ball with the best of my god-given ability.
"I'm going to try to put the pressure on them to get me up whenever they think I'm ready. But other than that, I can't really focus on anything else."
But the buzz around Kopech is emblematic of the buzz around the entire White Sox rebuild. This weekend's SoxFest is sold out as rebuild-hungry fans will get a look at the team of the present and the teams of the future.
How's Kopech feel about the expected crowd?
"Just try not to get stagefright," he joked. "It's a lot of fun to have the fans out welcoming what we're about, hopefully, to kick off for the next few years, hopefully everyone's just as excited as we are."