Michael Kopech has joined Eloy Jimenez in taking a sledgehammer to the doors of the majors. Over his last five outings, Kopech has thrown 31 innings–over six innings a start–and over that time he has a 2.32 ERA with 41 strikeouts against only 4 walks. That last bit is probably the most important statistical element of his performance, given his history. However, the White Sox have other prospects in their system who have been overshadowed of late given the compelling story of two uber prospects on the verge of the majors. Let’s see how they’re doing as the minor league season approaches its end:
- Dylan Cease continues to add to his breakout 2018 season, as he has now thrown 40.2 dominant innings in Double-A after coming into the year having never pitched above Low-A. Although Cease had some things in common with Kopech–elite fastball velocity, potentially wipeout breaking pitch–Cease’s issue had been staying healthy and on the mound more than Kopech’s bugbears of command and control. That’s not to say Cease is Greg Maddux, exactly, but he does not boast Kopech’s musclebound build and had never thrown more than 93.33 innings in a pro season before this year. On the other hand, he hasn’t gone totally walk crazy the way Kopech has from time to time either. He’s now up to 112.33 innings in 2018 and judging from his stat line he’s showing no signs of fatigue. Indeed, his last three starts have been triumphs, combining to 19 shut out innings with 28 strikeouts and only three walks. One suspects he’ll start 2019 in Double-A again, but this is what he needed to do to make up for his time lost to injury and has thoroughly revived his chances to actually stick as a starting pitcher.
- The Winston-Salem Dash of High-A have lost Micker Adolfo to injury and Luis Alexander Basabe to promotion, and their lineup is still loaded with talent. Blake Rutherford continues his bounce-back 2018 campaign, continuing to hit for contact and improving his power numbers with a .305/.352/.450 line. On Tuesday, Luis Robert returned from his most recent injury and went two-for-four. He joins Rutherford and Luis Gonzalez, the 2017 third-rounder who is posting an identical .850 OPS in High-A as he had in Low-A while working with Aaron Rowand to try to stick in center field. From the outfield, all three can look in to see Nick Madrigal on the dirt who, unsurprisingly, has been a fast mover. After 19 pro games, Madrigal finally had his first strikeout, but he has hit for average and gotten on base as advertised. If they play well down the stretch, all four of these are candidates to start 2019 in Double-A.
- Ian Hamilton and Ryan Burr have been reunited at Triple-A Charlotte, as Burr has joined his brother in history puns. While the Mets have devoted a lot of resources without a lot of results to replenishing their organizational right-handed relief depth–this was essentially their only return for their sell-off last trade deadline, for example–the White Sox may have found a brace of setup men or even closers via trading international pool money (Burr) and the use of an 11th round pick (Hamilton). Burr hasn’t skipped a beat in his first three innings in Charlotte, as he has yet to allow a run, and Hamilton keeps cruising along with an ERA in the low 2.00s and peripherals to match. As fun as it is to see Matt Davidson’s surprising success in his relief outings, it seems likely these two will arrive sooner rather than later and take up some of the innings that have gone to lesser talents of late.
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