CHISportsNation

By now, of course, you have heard that the White Sox have made a number of moves during the off season to start rebuilding a team that was just not holding it together to complete a season and make it into the playoffs. That meant saying good-bye to some players who had been around for a few years and become favorites, but it also means it’s a time to get to now some hot new young talent.

One of the most talked about was part of the deal to send Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox. That’s the same trade that brought the Pale-Hose Yoan Moncada, but it also brought a promising pitching prospect in Michael Kopech.

The Good News

Kopech was drafted by the Red Sox during the second round in 2014. He played in their farm system and quickly became one to watch. The good news? He has struck out a startling 113 batters in his career with the Boston system and pitched in 96.67 professional innings. During his time with Boston’s Salem Red Sox he only had two earned runs in him in 14 innings and a minuscule ERA of 0.69.

That’s great for people who love stats, but the thing that has stood out even to the most casual of fans is the 20-year-old’s fastball. It has been clocked at a blistering 105 mph. That speed was clocked during a game between the Salem Red Sox and the Wilmington Blue Rocks on July 13, 2016.

To add to his already-building mystique, Kopech accomplished another amazing feat against the Atlanta Brave’s farm team – the Mudcats. Kopech was just coming off of the DL and managed to strike out the opposing side with the bare minimum of nine pitches, with his fastball routinely clocking over 100 mph.

He was always a big deal within the Boston organization, but as that team made trades to improve, Kopech kept climbing, eventually becoming their number one pitching prospect.

The Bad News

The problem is that Kopech has also garnered some of the bad boy reputation, too. In spring training of 2016 the young man got into an altercation with a teammate that resulted in Kopech throwing a punch that fractured his hand. To this day, the Red Sox have not released the exact details of what happened, but did tell the media they handled the situation internally. Kopech, despite the promise shown, did not make an appearance in the big leagues and spent all of 2016 in the Red Sox minor league system

In 2015, Kopech was suspended for using a drug called Oxilofrine. That’s a stimulant that has been banned by Major League Baseball. Kopech filed an appeal and released a statement saying he had never heard of the stuff and understood that it was often used for rapid weight loss, a problem he says he has never had. He still ended up missing 50 games.

The Weird

Chicago has sometimes seen some of its star athletes dating famous people from reality shows. Brian Uhrlacher of the Chicago Bears notoriously spent time dating Paris Hilton early in his career. Bears QB Jay Cutler dated and married former reality start Kristin Cavallari. Well, Kopech also has this going for him.

Kopech has been romantically linked to Brielle Zolciak-Biermann. For those of you who do not watch the Bravo network on cable, Zolciak-Biermann is the daughter of former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak. Kim and Brielle are regularly featured on their new reality show Don’t Be Tardy.

Zolciak-Biermann routinely and consistently posts photos of herself and Kopech on her Instagram account and has described them as “a better version of Barbie and Ken.” So, that should generate some interest even from those who may not be big baseball fans, but are reality TV fans.

In Conclusion

Kopech is young, having just turned 20. He seems to have a bit of a wild side that still has yet to be entirely tamed, which could make him an asset (if he can learn to channel that into playing) or a detriment in the locker room. He also has tremendous talent and a rifle for an arm. Which version ends up on the mound for the White Sox in 2017 remains to be seen.

Photo from Heavy.com

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