CHICAGO -- White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech knows it's going to be "god awful" not to be able to pitch in 2019 as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.But in describing his current demeanor as "optimistic," Kopech also plans to take advantage of this time away."It's also
CHICAGO -- White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech knows it's going to be "god awful" not to be able to pitch in 2019 as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
But in describing his current demeanor as "optimistic," Kopech also plans to take advantage of this time away.
"It's also a blessing," said Kopech, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline. "I have a lot of time off, but I have a lot of time to get better.
"I went to the big leagues with practically a non-existent changeup. That's one of the focal points of my rehab. Between that and a few other things, I'm going to try to take advantage of this time off."
Kopech, 22, isn't really working on anything at this point as he's not yet cleared to throw.
"I'll tweak other pitches, and command will be a big part of it, especially not really knowing how my command is going to be when I first come back," Kopech said. "It's going to be a lot that goes into it, but I'm not quite sure yet.
"This is an injury that happens probably way too often nowadays. Now I'm part of the statistic, and to see the success rate of people coming back, I'm glad that the numbers are where they are at. I know I'm too stubborn to not come back as strong as I was. I feel like I could be ahead of schedule, but there's no point in rushing it. There's not a chance I come back this year anyway."
Cease ready for action
Ask No. 3 prospect Dylan Cease, the reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year per MLB Pipeline, if he needs to start the 2019 season at Double-A Birmingham, and the right-hander will rely on an old adage in response.
"Above my pay grade," Cease said. "I'm ready to go wherever they put me and execute pitches where they put me."
Cease, 23, finished 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA between stops at Birmingham and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem last season. He fanned 160 over 124 innings, held opponents to a .189 average and featured a 1.06 WHIP. Those 124 innings represent Cease's highest single-season total, and with just 10 starts for the Barons, patience is understandable with this front-of-the-rotation type starter.
"You are forced to have patience, so my patience is however long it takes," Cease said. "A couple things came together where I had pretty good fastball command, had a good feel for my offspeed, was able to throw it in any count. All I did was focus on executing pitches and let everything else play out."
"His time is coming," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when Dylan's going to come. My eyes tell me he's got a big, bright future."
Anderson giving back
Tim Anderson recently completed his first youth baseball camp at Hillcrest High School, his alma mater in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and he had nothing but positive vibes concerning the one-day event brought about by his League of Leaders foundation.
"I'm trying to spread baseball out to my community and the youth of my area," Anderson said. "Baseball is not a big deal there or everybody doesn't pay attention to baseball there. We only know Alabama football."
Anderson had somewhere around 80 kids participate. He also sponsored 30 or 40 kids to take part in the event, while working with a number of local baseball coaches. He hopes to move the camp to two days next year and possibly even bring some version to the Chicago area.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.