By Kevin Powell
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Michael Kopech hasn’t even thrown a pitch in the major leagues yet, but he’s already one of the most recognizable and popular members of the White Sox.
“You know, I definitely want to use it to my advantage,” Kopech said on Thursday. “To have that platform to maybe help people. I do embrace it from that aspect.”
After a year of dating the daughter of a reality star, hitting 110 mph on a pitching radar gun and striking out 172 over 134 innings in the minors, Kopech is a rising star.
The 21-year-old is dating Brielle Biermann, the stepdaughter of reality star Kim Zolciak. He even made an appearance on the show “Don’t Be Tardy,” last year.
And the fan buzz has been noticeable at Camelback Ranch. After finishing bullpen sessions, Kopech stops to sign autographs and take pictures.
“We met young Kopech last year,” Scott from New Lennox, Ill. said. “We hope that he continues to progress. We saw him pitch in the spring last year, and all the coaches were watching. If they’re excited, we’re excited.”
Kopech was acquired in the Chirs Sale trade and initially was overshadowed by the centerpiece of the deal, Yoan Moncada. But the flamethrower is now considered one of the top prospects in baseball. So how’s he handling the newfound pressure?
“I know this is strange, but I meditate a lot,” Kopech said. “It’s just something I picked up last year. I started doing it before every start and I realized how beneficial it was towards me personally….I kept doing it during the offseason.”
The White Sox apparently have a new Zen master in the clubhouse.
“I think he’s got his feel well planted on the ground,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’s more concerned about how he’s going to go out there and do his job.”
Meanwhile, Kopech, like many fans, is already thinking of what could be with this talented group.
“I’m really excited about what the future has in store,” Kopech said. “Of course we have a lot of big league talent right now that’s taking care of business. But when we’re all there and we’re all helping out together, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It’s tough to say if Kopech is a sure bet starter, considering the type of power pitcher he is. But wherever he lands on the pitching staff, the attention will be sure to follow.
Nothing the Zen master can’t handle.
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720