Alex DeBrincat on throwing first pitch and Kopech

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Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday's White Sox game - photo via Scott King

by Scott King

Some pressure may have been on Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat after hearing he’d be throwing out the first pitch prior to Tuesday’s White Sox game for Blackhawks Night. The 20-year-old soon to be Blackhawks sophomore logged some junior varsity games at shortstop while attending Lake Forest Academy, but saw Sister Mary Jo Sobieck’s first pitch right down the middle prior to Saturday’s Sox game.

The forward didn’t think he’d be able to match the ceremonial toss seen ’round the web.

“No, absolutely not,” DeBrincat said. “Not even going to try. I’m just going to try to lob one in there and get it in the mitt, hopefully it’s not in the dirt. I think I’m going to take a pretty simple approach and not buzz one through there.”

Last season’s leading goal-scorer for the Hawks wasn’t going to try to match Sister Mary Jo’s speed.

“If I put any heat on it, I don’t think it’s going in the strike zone. That was pretty incredible. I watched that a few times. It was fun to watch for sure.”

DeBrincat’s pitch had a little heat and seemed to be a tad low and outside, but likely in the strike zone.

Prior to the pitch, DeBrincat discovered Sox prospect Michael Kopech would be making his MLB debut on the mound after him when doing an interview Tuesday morning.

“It’s pretty exciting for him and I know a lot of fans are excited about him too. I don’t know too much about him, but I heard he’s a pretty promising prospect and hopefully he can perform well tonight.”

DeBrincat, although two years Kopech’s junior, knows what it’s like to be a “pretty promising prospect”. After registering 127 points in the OHL during the 2016-2017 season, the man they call “Cat” was a threat for the Hawks in the NHL all season long and finished with 28 goals and 24 assists.

“Definitely a lot of nerves,” DeBrincat said of what Kopech was likely experience in his big league debut. “Your dream is becoming a reality. You try to take in as much as you can. I’m sure he’s doing the same thing. I don’t think he’s thinking too much about expectations. I think he’s just trying to go out there and play the game he knows he can. I think that’s the best way to approach it.”

After a rough start, Kopech has been on fire in Triple-A. Since the All-Star break he’s 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 59 strikeouts for the Charlotte Knights. The Sox decided it was time to give him a look.

Following a 52-minute rain delay Kopech was done for the night after 52 pitches, 35 of which were strikes. He allowed zero runs and struck four batters out in two full innings.

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