Just two weeks ago I wrote about the incredible energy that surged throughout Guaranteed Rate Field for Michael Kopech‘s major league debut. It was amazing, something White Sox fans haven’t felt for the better part of at least a decade.
Which makes this afternoon’s news feel like a heavyweight knockout punch landed squarely on the face of White Sox fans everywhere.
The White Sox announced that phenom Michael Kopech has been diagnosed with a torn UCL, and injury that will require Tommy John surgery, and put an end to any hopes that White Sox fans had of seeing him breakout in 2019.
The club announced that Kopech will seek a second opinion, a standard practice in these instances, but ultimately White Sox fans will be without the flame-throwing righty in their lives until Spring Training 2020.
Kopech, 22, is the second rated prospect in the Chicago White Sox system, behind only slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez, and ranked No. 13 overall according to MLB Pipeline. In 24 starts with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Kopech posted a 3.70 ERA over the course of 126.1 innings of work, striking out 170 and walking 60 opposing hitters in that span.
Kopech owns a pristine 3.29 ERA in 260.2 innings of work in Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte since being acquired, and has used his blazing fastball and quickly developing secondary pitches to ring up a whopping 342 opposing hitters in that same span.
Through four starts with the White Sox, Kopech was 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA, a number almost solely attributed to his last start on Wednesday when the Detroit Tigers tagged him for seven runs in just 3.1 innings of work. Keep in mind, this UCL injury occurred before that start, now painfully evident considering his velocity was roughly five miles per hour slower this past Wednesday.
If you wash away that dismal start, Kopech was damn good with the White Sox in his brief time with the major league club in 2018, allowing just one run over the course of 11 innings while notching nine strikeouts to just one walk.
Here’s what Kopech had to say about the impending surgery, and the disappointment factor this afternoon, “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for me in the past couple of weeks obviously. From just about my absolute peak to the absolute rock bottom for me. I think to say it’s unexpected would be an understatement.”
Feature Photo Credit: Getty Images
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