Fantasy Baseball: Better late than never for White Sox prospect Michael Kopech

The game's top pitching prospect is finally getting the call.

It took longer than anyone would have expected coming into the year — longer than it should have, frankly, thanks to a backslide so pronounced that it had us all questioning whether he really was the game's top pitching prospect. It took so long, in fact, that I was resigned to the idea it was probably probably too late, that the White Sox would have too much to gain from holding him out until next April. 

But they disagreed, oh glory be, because Michael Kopech will indeed make his debut Tuesday against the Twins, the team's official Twitter account reported Sunday:

So you know what you need to do. 

I understand his Triple-A stat line from this year doesn't sparkle as brightly as some:

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Michael Kopech CHW • SP • 34
2018 minors
ERA3.70
WHIP1.27
IP126.1
BB60
K170

But that's because he averaged 6.1 walks per nine innings in his first 17 starts, seemingly forgetting the lessons that had him on the verge of a big-league debut at the end of last season. So he had to learn them all over again, and according to the Chicago Tribune, that lesson came just before the All-Star break, when Triple-A pitching coach Steve McCatty lit him up for blaming borderline calls on the umpire.

"You have to control yourself out there and understand the situation," McCatty said. "The pitches you complained about, yes, they could have been strike threes and I thought they were. But you have to remember: You were in 3-2 counts, and who got you there?"

It's a fine story, but what makes it revelatory is the instantaneous transformation in Kopech's performance. Prior to that confrontation, Kopech had issued four or more walks in nine of his 17 starts. In seven starts thereafter, he issued four combined.

The result was a 1.84 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings, as well as this call-up, it turns out — a reward for accepting and applying the message the coaching staff delivered him.

And I have to think that's what it is. As I wrote earlier this week, the White Sox would have gained another year of team control by holding out Kopech until next April, but the message that should reverberate throughout the organization is that good things come to those who develop. Kopech appears to have done all the developing he needs to do.

Which means that the 22-year-old once clocked at 105 mph (but who now sits comfortably in the high 90s) has a chance to drop jaws over the final six weeks of the season. Assuming the White Sox are looking to increase last season's inning total by 20-30, he has enough still remaining to last the duration.

Of course, we don't know if he'll get that chance. We don't know who's out of the White Sox rotation or if they're going six-man. It's at least partly contingent on Kopech pitching like he has over the past few weeks at Triple-A. But at a position where everyone has some level of need in Fantasy Baseball, you take the chance on him doing just that. The last two starting pitchers I remember breaking into the big leagues with this kind of stuff were Noah Syndergaard and Alex Reyes, and while health has been an issue for both, performance certainly has not.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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