It’s Kopech Day! White Sox prospect takes the mound tonight for his MLB debut

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 21: Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait during photo day on February 21, 2018 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Kopech

CHICAGO – The whole point of the efforts started by Rick Hahn in late 2016 was to put the White Sox into Major League Baseball’s spotlight because of future sustained success, not “lightning in a bottle” for a year or two.

That’s how the White Sox had done so over the past decade – signing players that the franchise hoped could win in the moment while sprinkling in prospects here and there. The trade of Chris Sale changed that, as Hahn and the franchise decided to load up their minor leagues with prospects that could build a sustainable lineup for a decade.

One of those pieces that came to team as part of the future was Michael Kopech – a very young pitching prospect with an incredible fastball in need of a some experience before making an impact on the major league club. Over time, he developed as he rose up the White Sox system, and the past month-and-a-half was one of the best pitchers in Triple-A.

Thanks to that, White Sox fans get the chance to experience one of the fun parts of rebuilding: A high-profile prospect debut.

Kopech will make a highly anticipated first start with the team and in the MLB tonight when the White Sox host the Twins at 7 PM at Guaranteed Rate Field, a game you can see on WGN.

He comes to Chicago after a dominant stretch of ten games in which he sported a 4-2 record with a 2.14 ERA with 82 strikeouts compared to just 14 walks with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. His last seven games were even better as he went 2-0 with just nine earned runs allowed, striking out 59 batters while walking just four.  In his last two efforts, Kopech allowed just one earned run over 13 innings with 18 strikeouts without allowing a walk.

“I think you’ll see a slightly different pitcher from the one that many of you saw in Glendale,” said Rick Hahn of Kopech on a conference call Tuesday. “The fastball command has improved, the breaking ball has become much sharper and is now a ‘Swing and Miss’ pitch. Michael, (Charlotte pitching coach) Steve McCatty as well as our pitching instructors all deserve a world of credit for the advances that Michael has made in a short time.”

It has led to this moment on Tuesday night, one in which an enthusiastic gallery of White Sox fans will see a big part of their future take center stage. It’s one step towards making the new era of the franchise as successful one, progress made one fastball at a time.