ICYMI, Michael Kopech made his first appearance against Big League hitters in about 19 months yesterday, and buddy,,,,,, was it a sight for sore eyes. Not that White Sox fans have sore eyes these days, but you get my point. Dude looked fucking INCREDIBLE, though it was only a 1 inning, 11 pitch effort, but Sox fans have been waiting for those 11 pitches for a LONG time.
Let's first rewind it back to 2016: Michael Kopech was the "other" piece in the Chris Sale trade. Of course Yoan Moncada, the consensus #1 prospect prospect in baseball was "the" piece, but Kopech would have headlined a trade for just about any player in baseball not named Chris Sale at the time. He was that highly regarded based on "tools" alone.
We've all heard the folk legends about his enormous grade 80 fastball and throwing 110 with a crow hop...
but he was always somewhat "raw" as a pitcher, as he lacked command and a true secondary pitch. There were concerns he'd turn into a reliever because of those two things, but once it clicked for him, he flashed that he could be one of the very best pitchers in baseball. And by "flashed", I mean him doing shit like snapping off devastating ankle breaking hooks:
and backing that up with a changeup that falls off a table and faaaaaaades the fuck away:
and pairing those two true ++ secondary pitches with arguably the best fastball on planet earth:
Just so goddamn explosive. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of Gerrit Cole:
Spin rate like you read about, right Statcast?
You bet your fucking ass that's right. And I've said it once, and I'll say it again: no two fastballs are created equal. "Sneaky fast" is a term that used to be frequently used, and now there are measurements for that. Some fastballs sit 95 and look 92. Some sit 95 and look 98. It's all about how a hitter perceives the velocity of any given pitch, not just the number on the radar gun.
And yesterday he picked up right where he left off. Again, it was only 11 pitches but he showed exactly what made him the very best RHP prospect in baseball 2 years ago prior to his injury. He flashed that grade 80 fastball on the black:
and paired it with a hard, biting slider that was legitimately impossible to square up:
He'll be stashed in Charlotte to protect his pitch count until May, which is fine and probably necessary, but I cannot wait to re-unleash him on MLB's lineups. Dude is filthy and could very well be one of the best pitcher's in the game in due time. Kid has every physical tool on earth to do so, but he also has the brain and mental makeup for it. I LOVED this quote in his post game presser yesterday, via MLB.com's Scott Merkin:
“I don't want to take anything away from what I did today. I'm proud of it. I'm excited but moving forward I'm not going to try to be a power pitcher, I'm going to try to be a pitcher."
Kopech. Giolito. Keuchel. Lopez (who looks improved from 2019) and Cease (who's also flashed dominant shit, though still lacks consistency if judging by his performance Monday). This team is cooking with fucking gas. I love everything about it.
Now we just need to hope Coronavirus doesn't fuck with our season, because it's going to be a fun one. And again, nobody gives a shit about the White Sox, but you BETTER respect their roster.