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Kopech close to joining White Sox rotation

MLB Pipeline's No. 3 RHP prospect could get call midseason
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech probably won't break camp as part of the 2018 White Sox starting rotation.

But the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect in the game, according to a list released Tuesday by MLB Pipeline, certainly will arrive soon.

CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech probably won't break camp as part of the 2018 White Sox starting rotation.

But the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect in the game, according to a list released Tuesday by MLB Pipeline, certainly will arrive soon.

"I'm anxious for him to get there and stay there," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "I'm anxious to see the continued work we will put into Spring Training but also the continued work he will get to continue to improve, because for a lot of these guys, not only Kopech, their time is coming.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

"So what do they have to do now? They have to work on their craft and work on keeping their strong points strong ... and tighten things up basically."

Top 10 Prospects by Position

Kopech, 21, posted a 9-8 record with a 2.88 ERA over 25 starts split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2017. Only his final three starts took place with Charlotte, where Kopech will begin '18.

In 134 1/3 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander fanned 172, walked 65 and yielded a mere 92 hits and six home runs. Hitters finished with a .193 average against him, commensurate with his career .196 mark.

Shohei Ohtani of the Angels ranks No. 1 among right-handed pitchers per MLB Pipeline, followed by the Astros' Forrest Whitley, Kopech, the Rays' Brent Honeywell, the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Pirates' Mitch Keller, the Cardinals' Alex Reyes, the Reds' Hunter Greene, the Indians' Triston McKenzie and the Phillies' Sixto Sanchez.

Reynaldo Lopez reached the White Sox in 2017, making 22 starts for Charlotte and an Aug. 11 debut at Guaranteed Rate Field, a path that could be followed by Kopech this year. He will be used as a starter during Cactus League action, according to Cooper.

"I even said this to a couple of people already on the phone: 'I want you to do what I'm doing right now,' meaning I'm welcoming this opportunity," Cooper said. "I'm looking forward to this challenge of going out and being ready.

"Let's work at our craft, and that would be for everybody who comes to Chicago when we leave Spring Training, for everybody in the Minor Leagues that is close to helping us in Chicago. This is kind of how we hope the rebuild goes: Here comes the line."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech