It's that time of year again, when MLB Pipeline goes position-by-position leading up to the unveiling of their preseason top-100 prospects list at the end of the month.
Well, once again the White Sox are going to be well represented on the list, landing two guys in the top five of the first position: right-handed pitchers. Michael Kopech is the game's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect and Dylan Cease is No. 5, according to the rankers at MLB Pipeline.
There's little surprise there, with Kopech dominating in the final weeks of his minor league career before his first taste of big league action ended four starts in because of the need for Tommy John surgery. Cease's inclusion at No. 5 is even less surprising after his remarkable 2018 campaign that earned him MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year honors.
The rankers added some details, too, saying no right-handed pitching prospect has a better fastball or slider than Kopech's and that Cease's curveball is the best among the right-handers.
Kopech rode a roller coaster of emotions last year, starting in dominating fashion at Triple-A Charlotte. But a rocky stretch in the middle of the season saw him post a 5.69 ERA with 47 walks over a 12-start span. From there on, though, it was another round of domination, with a 1.84 ERA and a ridiculous 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his final seven outings before getting that promotion to the big leagues. Kopech flashed some of that electric stuff in his first few major league outings, but shockingly three of those four starts were impacted by rain. He logged just 14.1 innings in four starts and was knocked around in his final one, giving up seven runs on nine hits including four homers. Then came the news he needed Tommy John surgery.
Cease's 2018 went far smoother. He posted a 2.89 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 13 starts at Class A Winston-Salem before earning a promotion to Double-A Birmingham, where he fared even better, to the tune of a 1.72 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 10 starts there. He also made a trip to the Futures Game during All-Star week in Washington, where he pitched in the ninth inning.
Kopech, of course, will spend the entirety of the 2019 season recovering from the surgery and is slated to make his next start in 2020. Cease could potentially follow a similar track to the one Kopech was on last year and make his first major league appearance before the 2019 season is over.
The site will unveil more positional rankings as time goes on. Look for more White Sox — Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Zack Collins are good bets — to be included on those.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.