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This is why one tough start doesn't bug Kopech

White Sox prospect takes positives away from recent 'grind outing'
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech isn't trying to paint a picture of himself as a pitcher who is "beyond ready" for the Major Leagues, knowing there are more things for him to polish after making eight starts for Triple-A Charlotte in the past two seasons.

"But I do feel like I've done a good job of that," said the hard-throwing right-hander during a Friday conference call honoring him as the White Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April and honoring outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and catcher Seby Zavala as the co-White Sox Minor League Players of the Month.

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CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech isn't trying to paint a picture of himself as a pitcher who is "beyond ready" for the Major Leagues, knowing there are more things for him to polish after making eight starts for Triple-A Charlotte in the past two seasons.

"But I do feel like I've done a good job of that," said the hard-throwing right-hander during a Friday conference call honoring him as the White Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April and honoring outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and catcher Seby Zavala as the co-White Sox Minor League Players of the Month.

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"Honestly, I feel like my changeup is here," Kopech said. "I've thrown it more and more. I'm comfortable with it. I had more swings and misses on it last start then I probably have in my entire career combined. So I'm comfortable with my secondary stuff right now. The main thing is just getting ahead of guys and staying ahead of them and limiting damage when runners do get on."

Kopech, ranked as the White Sox No. 2 prospect and No. 10 overall in baseball by MLB Pipeline, has a 0-1 record with a 2.67 ERA in five starts this season. He has fanned 35 and walked nine over 27 innings; he is coming off of a start against Gwinnett on Tuesday when he set a season high by allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings.

To show the high level of excellence the 22-year-old has achieved, this particular start with seven hits allowed, six strikeouts and two walks over 100 pitches wasn't deemed a good one by Kopech. But it served as an important part of his growth, as he explained to his dad after that effort and again on Friday.

"I told him I thought I needed it, because I was getting too comfortable and too relaxed," Kopech said. "I needed an outing that was kind of a grind outing and to take what I could away from it."

Kopech knows that a rough start is just part of the process.

"Nobody wants to have a bad outing," Kopech said. "Learning from those situations and taking them into the next start is really all you can do. I've been comfortable with the amount of focus I've put into my sideline work. I'm really excited to keep doing so."

During this rebuild, the White Sox have done a great job of not rushing top prospects even when a need at the big league level might exist. General manager Rick Hahn mentioned Tuesday in St. Louis there's still development for Kopech, and how he's embracing the changes and suggestions.

Those changes and suggestions, being worked on with pitching coach Steve McCatty, are taking place with Charlotte. Ultimately they are geared toward sustained big league success.

"For the most part, everything he tells me is for the next level," said Kopech of work with McCatty. "That's both of our end goals.

"We've done a really good job of making the progress we have in the past month. I think we are both excited about what's coming up this month."

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