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Kopech ready for MLB call, whenever it comes

White Sox top pitching prospect discusses speculation, developing changeup
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- One of the questions figured to be asked most this weekend during a sold-out SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago is: When will Michael Kopech be ready for the Majors in 2018?

And how does the 21-year-old, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect, intend to answer those questions?

CHICAGO -- One of the questions figured to be asked most this weekend during a sold-out SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago is: When will Michael Kopech be ready for the Majors in 2018?

And how does the 21-year-old, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect, intend to answer those questions?

"For the most part, I just defer those questions to [general manager] Rick Hahn," said Kopech with a smile during an interview session Thursday after visiting patients and their families at the Ronald McDonald House. "Not really my call there.

Tweet from @whitesox: .@MichaelKopech5, @Nicky_Delmonico and @Carson_Fulmer are spending time with the families at @RMHCCNI! #SoxServe pic.twitter.com/ftub5Op1gs

"I'll do what I can control. I'm just going to go into camp every start and take the ball to the best of my God-given ability."

Kopech will be used as a starter during Spring Training and should start the 2018 season where he finished '17: as part of Triple-A Charlotte's rotation. The owner of a 100-mph fastball fanned 172 over 134 1/3 innings between stops with the Knights and Double-A Birmingham.

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

Not pitching in the Arizona Fall League this past offseason gave Kopech a full five months to fix things that might have been wrong. He felt as if he put himself in a good position for Spring Training.

"Obviously the changeup is something that has been talked about for over a year now," Kopech said. "Every bullpen I've had, I've thrown more and more changeups for strikes. I've focused on my command with that. To be able to throw that in any count I want will be my main goal going into spring.

"I don't think the changeup so much has anything to do with the velocity, but the change of speeds. As long as there's a differential between that and my fastball, we are good."

In other brief pitching-related news, Lucas Giolito "leaned out" a little bit through Pilates while building more upper-body muscle amid his drive toward a spot in the White Sox rotation. Alec Hansen, who figures to start in Birmingham's rotation, lost 15 pounds.

Meanwhile Kopech feels big league ready but won't go past that feeling in regard to his timetable for promotion.

"I'm not going to say that I should be there and I deserve to be there, because I haven't earned anything yet, but I feel like I'm ready if I get the call," Kopech said. "I don't want to be someone who when I get the call, is shaken up, nervous or overwhelmed. I want to feel prepared and I feel like I am."

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