White Sox

Is Michael Kopech the next Noah Syndergaard? It's not just because of the hair

Is Michael Kopech the next Noah Syndergaard? It's not just because of the hair

Whether it's the Noah Syndergaard-like hair, the hype or the internet video of his 110-mph pitch, it was only a matter of time before Michael Kopech got recognized on the street. 

Turns out it took less than a day. 

The White Sox farmhand — the No. 30 overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com — got a taste of his newfound notoriety after he arrived in Chicago on Thursday morning. Kopech, who's in town for SoxFest this weekend, said he was taking a stroll when suddenly a fan realized who he was.

"Most of the time, I'd go home and I can walk through a Walmart and say hi to everybody in Walmart and that's that," Kopech said. "It's a little different when I turn the corner in Chicago and I run into a person that recognizes me. It is something I have to get used to."

But it's not hard to understand why White Sox fans have made Kopech, 20, a focal point for their excitement. One of two signature pieces acquired from the Boston Red Sox in last month's Chris Sale trade, Kopech and infielder Yoan Moncada symbolize the franchise's decision to finally head in the opposite direction and rebuild.

Not only that, he possesses the kind of talent that made pitching coach Don Cooper say his "eyes lit up" when he watched video. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander followed a dominant half season at Single-A Salem with an outstanding showing in the Arizona Fall League. He has drawn comparisons to Syndergaard, the New York Mets' ace, and it's not just because the two feature shoulder-length blonde hair.

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And, of course, there's that video that surfaced last week when Kopech threw a pitch into a net at 110 mph in his first workout (the ball was weighted and he had a running start). 

All of the above is sure to make Kopech an instant hit with White Sox fans even if he won't be in the majors right away.

While Kopech, who went to high school in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, population 16,000, doesn't mind the attention, he said it might take a minute for him to adjust.

"It's kind of surreal to have this much attention on me because a small town out of Texas is where I grew up," Kopech said. "All of this has been surreal, but I'm extremely excited about it.

"I don't mind it. It's cool. I like interacting with people."

Kopech spent 90 minutes talking to season-ticket holders on Thursday afternoon. One informed him he isn't allowed to call Guaranteed Rate Field anything but "The Cell." Another wanted his opinion of new manager Rick Renteria, who Kopech hasn't yet been introduced to. But most wanted to express their excitement about the team's new direction, an enthusiasm Kopech also feels.

"The fans have been very excited, but I've been pretty excited myself," Kopech said. "I think I just learned more from them than they probably will from me. It's pretty cool we get to interact with them and see how devoted these fans actually are."

Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

SAN DIEGO -- The Hawk is in the Hall.

Legendary White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was announced as the winner of the Ford Frick Award on Wednesday, sending one of the most colorful characters in baseball history to Cooperstown forever.

Harrelson spent decades behind the mic for the White Sox, never leaving any doubt over how much passion he had for the South Siders. His love for the White Sox and the game in general shone through with every word he uttered, with so many of those words becoming part of baseball’s lexicon.

Be it iconic catchphrases like “You can put it on the board, yes!” and “He gone!” or memorable moments such as “You gotta be bleepin’ me!” and “Under the circumstances, that was the best catch I have ever seen!” everyone in Chicago has a favorite Hawk call. For multiple generations of fans, he was as closely associated with the franchise as anyone.

The Ford Frick Award honors excellence in broadcasting, and while his detractors might label him too much of a homer, there was never an attempt to mask that fact. Hawk’s broadcasts were for White Sox fans, and he accomplished what few broadcasters can claim to accomplish today: Watching his games was like watching the game at the bar, with fellow fans getting all riled up over every play.

There’s a great line from a baseball film that goes, “Baseball’s a game; games are supposed to be fun.” Hawk made games just that: fun. Whether he was going crazy over a White Sox win, his voice cracking while proclaiming that “our kids just will not quit,” or he was seething in anger, decrying one of the men in blue as “a disgrace to the umpiring profession,” he provided a level of entertainment that made games more enjoyable.

For many, being a White Sox fan includes adopting “Hawkisms” -- be they greatest hits or deep cuts -- as part of your daily routine. “Don’t stop now, boys” and “we need help” can be equally enjoyable rallying cries. And they all stem from the Hawk. He’s not just a man. He’s a language all his own.

That’s a Hall-of-Fame impact.

And now he’s been rewarded with this honor, a place in Cooperstown among the greats. For this writer, “deserving” to be a part of the Hall of Fame means being such an integral part of the game that you cannot tell the story of baseball without the person in question. You cannot tell the story of the game without slipping into a Hawk impression. You wouldn’t want to. It’s simply too much fun.

Mercy.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

The White Sox made a late night trade at the Winter Meetings, acquiring right fielder Nomar Mazara for 2018 second-round pick Steele Walker.

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss the trade, why it was made and, love it or hate it, is it the right move for the short term? (1:25) Then, Rangers beat writer Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning News answers the question: What are the White Sox getting in Mazara? (15:43)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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