GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Kopech was solid in his second Cactus League start, striking out four over three innings Sunday afternoon against the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch. The 20-year-old right-hander, in the first inning, struck out Joey Gallo and James Loney on upper-90's fastballs and whiffed Will Middlebrooks on a tight slider, flashing the explosive repertoire that made him such an enticing part of December's Chris Sale blockbuster.
Kopech allowed a run on Delino DeShields' single and Nomar Mazara's double to begin Sunday's game (a Geovany Soto throwing error trying to snuff out DeShields' stolen base contributed, too), but settled down after, allowing only two more baserunners. His final line (3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) was much better than his Cactus League debut (1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR), and he threw 38 of his 62 pitches for strikes.
Ranked by MLB.com as 2017's No. 16 prospect, Kopech has tried to use his time facing major leaguers this spring to learn how they adjust to him over the course of an at-bat and a game. Kopech faced four Rangers players twice Sunday: DeShields (single, flyout), Mazara (double, groundout), Gallo (strikeout swinging, walk) and Middlebrooks (strikeout swinging, strikeout looking).
"They are going to adjust to a pitch that you may not have someone adjust to in Double-A," Kopech said. "If I miss a spot just a little bit up or a little bit in, or wherever the case may be, it could be taken advantage of here. Trying to correct that so I don't have to deal with that when I get to the big league level."
Manager Rick Renteria said Kopech could make a third Cactus League start, though he wouldn't definitively commit to that happening. Regardless of what Kopech's immediate next step is, the White Sox will be patient with him, with Double-A appearing to be the likely starting point for him in 2017.
If and when Kopech does make it to the major league level, it'll be because he extensively proved his readiness, not because the team has a need to fill in a playoff push. The same goes for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Yoan Moncada, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and the rest of the team's horde of prospects that'll disperse from Single-A to Triple-A after spring training ends.
So for Kopech, the coming weeks, months and perhaps even years will be a balancing act of wanting to reach the majors and methodically developing so when he does make it, he'll stick for good.
"I'm extremely eager to be a big leaguer," Kopech said. "It's the ultimate goal, and the ultimate goal is to dominate at the big league level for me. I realize that might not be right away but it's about trusting the process we have going on right now and letting the veteran guys and the big league guys at the level already compete to the best of their abilities, and hopefully I will contribute to that once I get there."