Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech’s stock is rising following an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League.
The buzz surrounding Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech continues to grow. The 20-year old started to get our attention earlier this year with a blazing fastball that was clocked as high as 105 mph and his impressive showing in the recently completed Arizona Fall League further solidifies his standing as one of the top prospects in the system.
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MLB.com currently ranks Kopech as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox system, but he made a strong case for moving up the ladder this fall. Kopech appeared in six games in the AFL, posting a 2.01 ERA and striking out 26 batters with 8 walks over 22 1/3 innings.
These results earned Kopech the No. 4 spot on MLB.com’s Top 25 prospects from the Arizona Fall League. MLB.com’s Jim Callis notes that Kopech’s velocity stood out, but also reports success with his breaking ball and off-speed pitch. This shows that Kopech is becoming a more well rounded pitcher rather than one that needs to rely heavily on throwing heat, a good sign that he can reach his projected ceiling as a top of the rotation starter.
“Kopech hit 100 mph five times with his fastball during two perfect innings at the Fall Stars Game and sat at 98 mph in many of his starts,” writes Callis. “His hard slider elicits swings and misses and his changeup shows flashes of becoming a plus offering. Save for one start in which he walked six, his control was better than advertised, as he surrendered just two free passes in his other 19 innings.”
The scouting report on Kopech shows control is his biggest weakness, so the number of free passes he allowed is a bit concerning. It’s not an uncommon issue for young pitchers, especially ones that throw as hard as Kopech. Most of those walks came in the same game, so one wild outing isn’t going to overshadow the progress he showed during the rest of his time in the AFL.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski indicated during the recent GM meetings that Kopech would begin next season in Double-A Portland. If he continues to improve upon his control issues then we could see him rise rapidly through the organization. While the Red Sox should still be targeting a starting role for his future, Kopech’s overwhelming velocity could entice them to let him get his feet wet at the big league level out of the bullpen.
The Red Sox have one of the strongest farm systems in baseball, but outside of Kopech they weren’t well represented in the AFL. Top prospect Yoan Moncada didn’t make the Top 25 list due to lack of playing time following a sprained thumb that sidelined him after only six games.