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Sox determined not to rush prospect Kopech

Hard-throwing righty still has things to work on; injury updates on Avi, Rodon
MLB.com @scottmerkin

ST. LOUIS -- Michael Kopech made his fifth start of the 2018 season for Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday and his eighth overall at that level.

But the organizational approach with the hard-throwing right-hander, who is the White Sox No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, remains centered upon development over any sort of rush to the Major Leagues.

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ST. LOUIS -- Michael Kopech made his fifth start of the 2018 season for Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday and his eighth overall at that level.

But the organizational approach with the hard-throwing right-hander, who is the White Sox No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, remains centered upon development over any sort of rush to the Major Leagues.

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"There's an anxiousness, in a good way, an excitement about 'Let's get these guys to Chicago, and let's get going on that,'" said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn prior to his team's series opener Tuesday at Busch Stadium. "And when the team is struggling in a certain area, and this is in regard to our starting pitching, there's a temptation, 'Well hey, we've got better options in Triple-A with these prospects. Let's bring them and get going.'

"Neither of those things are going to drive the decision to ultimately bring him. It's going to be just like it was with [Yoan] Moncada and [Reynaldo] Lopez and [Lucas] Giolito last year. It's going to be only after all the questions we have for them at the Minor League level have been answered."

Hahn acknowledged a time could come where there's not much more of a challenge for Kopech in the International League, much like Moncada last season. But Hahn also talked about the White Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April getting through six innings in only two of the previous four starts and how his goals have not changed since he left Spring Training.

"Continue to build the usage and ultimately the mastery of the changeup, and as he put it, to continue to refine his composure on the mound," Hahn said. "He's making progress in both those areas.

"He's had a nice month. I believe in his last outing he threw seven changeups, one of them a strike. So there's development still to be done. He knows it, and he's responding well to it and embracing it."

Tweet from @whitesox: .@WSDashBaseball OF Luis Alexander Basabe & @BhamBarons C Seby Zavala have been named the Chicago White Sox Minor League co-Players of the Month for April, & @KnightsBaseball RHP Michael Kopech has been named Pitcher of the Month as voted by a panel of Chicago-area media members. pic.twitter.com/sNpMlG1g0f

Injury updates

Hahn provided the following injury updates on Tuesday:

Avisail Garcia: The right fielder is dealing with a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring, so it's going to take a few weeks to get him back at the Major League level.

Carlos Rodon: Rodon will make his third start at extended spring camp this week. His fourth most likely will come in Arizona as he works the rehab trail back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery last September.

"Our next update on him will be assigning him to a certain affiliate for a rehab outing," Hahn said.

Luis Robert: The No. 3 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, had the cast removed from his left hand and is doing conditioning drills in Arizona, although he's a week to 10 days from being able to fully grip a bat and go through all the hitting drills after suffering a sprained ligament in his left thumb. The outfielder will begin play at extended spring camp later this month and could reach Class A Advanced Winston-Salem by early June.

Alec Hansen: Soreness in Hansen's forearm has subsided and the No. 4 White Sox prospect will throw his first bullpen session next week. After going through a throwing program, Hansen will make starts at extended spring before joining Double-A Birmingham.

In support of Anderson

Tim Anderson, his wife, Bria, and his young daughter, Peyton, hosted a group of young men from the Youth Guidance's Becoming A Man program for a special trip to Kansas City last Friday, which involved a tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with the Andersons. Hahn wanted to make sure Anderson's strong character example wasn't lost amid the "fun police" discussions involving the White Sox shortstop.

Tweet from @whitesox: On Friday, Tim & Bria Anderson hosted a group for a field trip to Kansas City to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as part of their League of Leaders program.

"I'll take 25 guys like that, in terms of guys who play with intensity and passion and joy for the game," Hahn said. "That's wonderful.

"Now other people policing it, that's certainly their prerogative. That's their right. In this clubhouse, I'll be happy to go to battle with 25 Tim Andersons."

Award winners

Winston-Salem outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and Birmingham catcher Seby Zavala were named co-White Sox Minor League Players of the Month for April. Kopech won the pitching honor.

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