Preview: Twins at White Sox
CHICAGO — The future is now for the Chicago White Sox.
Right-hander Michael Kopech, a hard-throwing 22-year-old who is widely regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will make his big league debut Tuesday night when the White Sox host the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. Kopech will be promoted before the game from Triple-A Charlotte, where he has been dominant in recent weeks.
His new teammates cannot wait to welcome him aboard.
“Really good, really good,” White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez said. “We’re going to have one of the best prospects in the game with us. He’s one of the best, and everybody thinks he’s supposed to be a superstar, and we’re all excited.”
The Boston Red Sox selected Kopech with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Mount Pleasant (Texas) High School. He developed quickly and became a main piece in the trade that sent All-Star left-hander Chris Sale from Chicago to Boston.
This season, Kopech has posted 170 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings. He is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts, but his past seven starts have been particularly dominant as he has an incredible 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
White Sox catcher Kevan Smith is familiar with Kopech from his time in the minors.
“(He is) electric, I guess you could say,” Smith said. “Heavy fastball, life toward the end. It’s heavy. That’s something he has. The last I caught him, we were playing with his changeup a little bit, trying to get his changeup numbers up. …
“He’s been throwing the ball great. I’ve been keeping up with what he’s doing. No surprise he’s here.”
Chicago (47-77) could use the lift as a disappointing season approaches its final month. Kopech projects as a mainstay in the starting rotation for years to come alongside fellow young arms Carlos Rodon, Lopez, Lucas Giolito and others on the way.
Meanwhile, Minnesota (59-65) will try to take advantage of the rookie’s first day in the majors.
Twins right-hander Jose Berrios — a top young arm in his own right — will make his 26th start of the season. The 24-year-old Puerto Rican is 11-8 with a 3.75 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings. He is looking to go deep into the game after failing to make it five innings in each of his past two starts.
“We’ll do a little due diligence,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after Berrios’ last outing. “We all know how hard he works and how he crushes it between starts. … It could be just a matter of, he’s not feeling quite right — not physically, but whether his arm is trailing. Some mechanical things can get out of whack over the course of the season.”
Berrios has shined against the White Sox throughout his career. In seven starts, he is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA. He has walked 10 batters while striking out 54 in 47 1/3 innings.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria could return to the dugout one day after he was hospitalized for feeling light-headed before Monday’s game in Minnesota. Renteria was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for precautionary reasons.