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Kopech maturing, turns corner at Triple-A

Jimenez impressing with Charlotte; Danish excited to pitch in hometown
MLB.com @scottmerkin

ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2018 turning point for Michael Kopech is easy to pinpoint for Dustin Garneau, a veteran catcher who has been behind the plate with Triple-A Charlotte for the No. 2 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline.

It was on July 5 at home against Durham, when Kopech exited after walking four and allowing four earned runs in three innings. Kopech's reaction to the home-plate umpire on that night and the situation overall was not a positive one in Garneau's mind.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2018 turning point for Michael Kopech is easy to pinpoint for Dustin Garneau, a veteran catcher who has been behind the plate with Triple-A Charlotte for the No. 2 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline.

It was on July 5 at home against Durham, when Kopech exited after walking four and allowing four earned runs in three innings. Kopech's reaction to the home-plate umpire on that night and the situation overall was not a positive one in Garneau's mind.

View Full Game Coverage

"[Kopech] showed a lot of immaturity that game," said Garneau, who joined the White Sox this weekend from Charlotte with Kevan Smith going on the paternity list. "The ump did squeeze him a lot. That didn't help.

"But the way [Kopech] reacted to it, I told him that can't work. After that game, he really learned maturity and now he is pitching."

In Kopech's four starts since that moment, he has yielded six earned runs on 19 hits over 24 innings with 32 strikeouts and four walks. There's no doubt in Garneau's mind Kopech's raw ability falls in that elite category, focusing especially on Kopech's fastball.

"It's electric. It's a next level fastball," Garneau said. "There are guys who have 100 mph and there are guys who have a different kind of 100 mph. That's what he has.

"Now, the last four or five outings, he's really learned how to throw and pitch with four pitches. He's got a changeup now. He knows how to pitch with the curveball and slider and he's got a real demeanor where he's more mature on the mound. He's looking really good."

Don't forget Jimenez

Garneau couldn't talk about top White Sox prospects at Charlotte without addressing the offensive prowess of Eloy Jimenez, No. 1 in the White Sox organization and No. 3 in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline.

Video: Eloy Jimenez on fitting in with Triple-A Charlotte

"It's [crazy]. The guy barrels everything," Garneau said. "When he gets out, it's 100 mph. When he hits homers, it's 100 mph. The guy is special.

"Guys like that, who are that good, they are wired differently. It's fun watching him swing."

When asked for a Major League comparison for Jimenez, Garneau pointed to his former Colorado teammate, Nolan Arenado.

"Not to that caliber yet," Garneau said. "But the way he swings, the demeanor he has in the box. They are different hitters, but the way he goes about his plate appearances and the way he swings, how hard he hits the ball, reminded me of [Arenado]."

Danish returns home

Around 200 family members and friends of Tyler Danish will be in attendance this weekend to watch the White Sox play the Rays at Tropicana Field. Danish struck out Jesus Sucre -- the only batter he faced -- with the winning run at third and two outs in the ninth inning of Friday night's 3-2, 10-inning win over the Rays.

Video: CWS@TB: Danish K's Sucre, strands 2 runners in 9th

Danish grew up 45 minutes away from The Trop, and it was the first time any of his friends or family saw him pitch in the Majors.

"[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] just made a joke, 'We got to let everyone see you pitch this series,'" Danish said prior to the game.

One person who will be absent this weekend is Michael Danish, Tyler's father and guiding baseball force, who passed away from colon cancer two days after Christmas in 2010. It was Danish's father and his mother, Charlotte -- who will be in attendance this weekend -- who took Danish to his first big league game at Tropicana Field.

Even at that point, Danish knew he wanted to make a career out of baseball.

"When I was a kid, this was the kingdom to me," Danish said. "It's something where you walk in and you are amazed. Anyone you talk to, they remember the first ballpark where they walk in. This was the best thing I saw as a kid, and I wanted to play there, and luckily I get to make it happen.

"This is my dad's dream since I was a kid. It's going to be an unreal experience. I wish he could be here to see it, but I know he's with me at all times. It's another fun, cool experience I get to enjoy as best as I can."

Who was one of Danish's favorite Rays players when he made those youthful trips to Tropicana Field? None other than James Shields, whose locker sits three away from Danish in the visiting clubhouse.

Third to first

Nate Jones, out since June 12 with a right pronator strain, played catch from about 65 feet for a second straight day. The right-handed reliever had his injury rehab shut down for two weeks over the All-Star break, but he plans on pitching this season.

"It's tough and always sucks being hurt," Jones said. "But you have to have a goal, and our goal is, 'I'm going to pitch again this year.'"

Avisail Garcia has hit 10 homers in his last 25 games, and Daniel Palka has connected on nine in his last 21.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech