For most White Sox fans in 2017 and likely the next two or three seasons, all of the excitement and attention will be paid to players who aren’t currently on the big league roster. That’s why the Futures Game TV ratings for residents of the South Side may have been higher than most other parts of the country.
While Yoan Moncada and Zack Collins didn’t show much in their three combined at-bats that resulted in no hits and two strikeouts, Michael Kopech recorded a clean inning, including a strikeout of organizational teammate Moncada who couldn’t catch up to a well-placed 101 MPH fastball on the outside corner.
The pitch that made the #1 overall prospect look like he was swinging a tree is exactly why the White Sox are salivating over Kopech’s potential. But even in the three outs he recorded you could see why he won’t be ready to join the MLB ranks anytime soon.
At times he would ace the corner like he did against Moncada, which at that velocity is impossible to hit unless you’re looking for it specifically in that location. Yet at other times in the inning he let his devastating slider slip too far out of the zone to entice even the most swing-happy hitters and other times he would leave it over the plate too much.
An MLB pitcher can get away with having one pitch that hits triple digits on the radar gun if he’s only pitching one inning per game. See Chapman, Aroldis. But if that pitcher wants to start Major League games, he better have command of that overpowering fastball and be able to throw his offspeed for strikes as well.
Kopech wasn’t drafted to accumulate saves at the back end of a bullpen. He was drafted to be the ace of an organization, and he needs to be that considering who the White Sox gave up to get him. To do that, he needs to consistently hit his spots in order to keep the best hitters in the world off balance even after facing him for the second or third time in a given game.
No matter how electric a pitcher’s stuff is, Major League hitters will eventually get the barrel on the ball if it’s not located well. And if Michael Kopech wants to be the ace of the Chicago White Sox, he’ll need to adopt that mentality before making it to the Show.