White Sox Prospect Michael Kopech On Teammate Eloy Jimenez, Hopes Of Making It To The Bigs, And His Season So Far
By Kevin Powell
Michael Kopech said he would be “disappointed” if he didn’t get called up to the majors this season. And he also said Eloy Jimenez is a great teammate and the best minor league hitter he’s ever seen. The White Sox top pitching prospect joined me on my podcast this week to discuss a wide variety of topics.
It was an engaging, fun and thoughtful conversation with the hard throwing 21-year-old phenom.
These are a handful of the questions and answers from the episode.
What’s clicked over his last five starts?
“I really just focused on my mechanics and kind of slowing everything down, slowing the game down. There was a point earlier in the season where I was trying to do too much. And I think I was looking too far ahead. I’ve kind of just gone back to the basics.”
Were struggles this season more mental or physical?
“It was definitely more mental than physical. I mean, I did kind of get out away from my body as far as mechanics go. I made some minor adjustments and got back to it. But for the most part it was clearing my head and getting my confidence back.”
On his changeup adjustments this season:
“It’s kind of an unorthodox grip. Basically, it’s kind of a deeper two-seam because I had a problem throwing a true circle-change. And I throw my fastball with confidence, so I figured throwing a two-seam like that would be pretty easy to throw with confidence and it’s worked for me.
“It’s just about finding a pitch that I have confidence in and finding a grip that I have confidence in. It’s really helped my repertoire as far as the last few outings have gone, and I’m going to continue to develop that pitch.”
Would he be disappointed if he’s not called up to the majors this season?
“Yea, I’d be disappointed. I know there’s an aspect of it that I don’t get to be a part of. There’s a business side of things. But I feel like I’ve done everything I need to do.
“I know I went through a stretch there where my numbers got inflated and it looked like I wasn’t ready, but I feel like I’m past that. And I’ve done as much as a I can to try and get back to normal – I feel about as confident as I can right now.”
Has he been told of an innings limit this season?
“I haven’t been told about an innings cap…Hopefully there’s not.”
On being teammates with Eloy Jimenez:
“It’s unbelievable. I’m fortunate enough to be pretty good friends with Eloy – we sort of feed off each other. And I’m not just saying this because he’s a teammate and he’s a good buddy of mine. But he’s probably the best hitter I’ve ever seen in the minor leagues.”
What is Eloy like behind-the-scenes?
“I’m sure you’ll understand when he gets called up. He’s a very care-free, kind of easy going guy. You can compare Eloy to Yolmer (Sanchez) a little bit. He likes to have fun, he likes to cut it up a little bit, but he likes to win, too. He’s a lot of fun to have around the clubhouse.”
Do they feed off each other?
“Yea, 100 percent. Since we’re both in similar spots in our career, we can relate to each other. Having a guy like that in the lineup—especially when you’re out there competing your tail off on the mound—if it’s a two run game and he comes up to the plate with one or two runners on, you never feel like you’re counted out. We definitely kind of bounce stuff off of each other and it makes things a lot more comfortable when he’s in the lineup.”
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7pm. Follow on twitter @kpowell720