Michael Kopech is coming for the big leagues. But he won't be there on Opening Day.
General manager Rick Hahn made it clear to reporters Tuesday in Arizona that the team's No. 1 pitching prospect will begin the season in the minor leagues.
General manager Rick Hahn said top pitching prospect Michael Kopech will start the season in the minors.— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) March 6, 2018
Michael Kopech will not open the season with major league club. Hahn made that clear.— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) March 6, 2018
That might be disappointing to White Sox fans who wanted to see the flame-throwing 21-year-old right-hander with gargantuan expectations do enough in spring training to crack that 25-man roster out of camp. For what it's worth, Kopech has made a couple of Cactus League outings so far, pitching 4.1 innings, allowing one unearned run, giving up four hits and a walk and striking out six.
But even if Kopech is already the best pitcher at any level in the White Sox organization, the decision to start his 2018 at Triple-A Charlotte, where he finished up his 2017 season, makes complete sense.
The rebuilding White Sox aren't expected to compete in 2018, and they have their sights on building a perennial championship contender on the South Side, with Kopech a big part of those plans. There's absolutely no reason to rush Kopech to the majors after he pitched only 15 innings at the Triple-A level last season.
Yes, Kopech was sensational in Double-A, posting a 2.87 ERA with 155 strikeouts in his 22 starts. But Hahn has reiterated multiple times this offseason that a good developmental season for Kopech, still really young, could include him not seeing the majors at all.
White Sox fans are hoping that's not what ends up happening. But him starting at Triple-A is a mighty sensible strategy for the White Sox.
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