CHICAGO – There’s a reason the White Sox brought up top pitching prospect Michael Kopech from Triple-A Charlotte late this season while leaving top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez off the roster for more “development.”
When he does join the Sox next April, odds are favorable Jimenez is going to be a force with the bat.
Pitchers are different.
“You’re seeing with this promotion here, from a baseball standpoint, we felt like it made the most sense to get Michael here, build off that innings base, make his debut in his age-22 season and head into this offseason with a clear focus and understanding of exactly what it takes to get big league hitters out,” general manager Rick Hahn said.
“From a development standpoint, we felt that this was in the best interest of Michael to put him in the ideal position to reach that ceiling of his. Each individual player is similarly judged based upon what is best for them as an individual.”
Letting Kopech pitch against the best hitters in the game and evaluating his considerable skills were the Sox’s goals when they brought up the right-hander Aug. 21, but there have been some outside factors.
Mainly, the rain.
Kopech’s first two home starts were abbreviated because of rain delays, and the skies opened up again in Wednesday night’s outing against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. This time, Kopech was able to come back after the first of two delays came in the bottom of the second inning and was limited to 28 minutes.
But the prized pitching prospect lacked his big fastball before, and after the bad weather hit. Kopech was tagged for seven runs on nine hits and one walk in 31/3 innings as well as a 10-2 loss.
In the fourth, Kopech was rocked by five straight hits to open the inning, three of them home runs. His ERA jumped from 0.82 to 5.02.
One lesson Kopech did learn Wednesday was on facing an opponent for the second time.
His first major league win came at Detroit on Aug. 26, when Kopech held the Tigers to one run in six innings. It was a different story in Wednesday’s rematch.
“You’ve got to make in-game adjustments, if need be,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s just part of the way it is. Has it been frustrating with the weather? Yeah, a little, but we can’t control Mother Nature. It is what it is.”