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Flamethrower Kopech pleased with changeups

MLB.com @RichardJustice

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- His fastball touched 101 mph in the first inning and sat consistently in the 96-98 range. For Michael Kopech, that's routine stuff.

"The velocity is going to be there for me," Kopech said.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- His fastball touched 101 mph in the first inning and sat consistently in the 96-98 range. For Michael Kopech, that's routine stuff.

"The velocity is going to be there for me," Kopech said.

View Full Game Coverage

What really pleased him Monday afternoon was the handful of changeups -- he guessed seven or eight -- that he threw during a two-inning scoreless stint against the Athletics at Camelback Ranch.

"I felt like it was pretty good," Kopech said. "I got behind in the count a couple times, and it gave me an opportunity to really work on my changeup and offspeed pitches. It helped me really focus on staying behind it and getting a strike with the pitch. I feel like it was a productive pitch, and I was OK with it."

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Asked how he thought hitters reacted, Kopech said: "I feel like I got the reaction I wanted. A couple got away from me. I threw three for a called strike, two were swung over and one was fouled off, so I got a few strikes out of it. I feel comfortable with it and taking it into my next outing."

Kopech, MLB Pipeline's No. 10 overall prospect and No. 2 in a loaded White Sox system, finished last season with 22 starts at Double-A Birmingham and averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

The 21-year-old came here to polish and get comfortable with his changeup. Once he's there -- and he's close -- Kopech's ticket to the big leagues will be punched.

The former first-round pick made three appearances (two starts) last year in big league camp, but this one is different. Instead of merely getting a feel for things, Kopech is here to show he belongs.

"Yes, and it's not the first time I've thrown to [catcher Kevan] Smith," Kopech said. "Kevan and I were on the same page, we talked about things before we went into the game and it worked out where I was comfortable before I even took the mound. It was a much more productive outing than my first one last year, and yes I did feel more comfortable this year."

Video: OAK@CWS: Kopech on mixing up pitches in spring debut

Injury updates
Top prospect Eloy Jimenez is slowed by a sore left knee and won't play for a day or two.

"We're very, very cautious with him," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "As soon as we get a nice feel for where he's at and he feels comfortable, we'll start inserting him into the lineup."

Video: Renteria discusses growth of Kopech, Jimenez

Camp battles
Matt Davidson is off to a hot start in his bid to win the starting job at third base or designated hitter. He drove in his fifth run of the spring with a third-inning double as the White Sox won their third straight Cactus League game in beating the Athletics, 7-6. He is hitting .500 for the spring.

Worth noting

• The White Sox executed a perfect suicide squeeze in a three-run fourth with left fielder Charlie Tilson laying down a sacrifice bunt to score Rondon from third.

Video: OAK@CWS: Tilson plates Rondon on a sacrifice bunt

Tyler Saladino, who played second on Monday, is hitting .571.

Up next
No. 9 prospect Carson Fulmer gets his first start of the spring at 2:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday (MLB.TV) when the White Sox play Jon Lester and the Cubs in Mesa.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech