Charlotte Knights

Another Charlotte Knights’ pitcher, just 21, is making his case for time in majors

Charlotte Knights pitcher Michael Kopech routinely throws a fastball at 96 to 98 mph.
Charlotte Knights pitcher Michael Kopech routinely throws a fastball at 96 to 98 mph. AP

Four of the five top prospects in most preseason ratings of Chicago White Sox talent have made it to the major leagues this season.

The fifth is making a case for a call-up.

The other four prospects – second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer – have seen considerable playing time this season with the White Sox.

The fifth is right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech, at 21 the youngest of the top five in those preseason rankings.

Kopech, who routinely throws a fastball at 96 to 98 mph, pitched five innings Friday night against Norfolk, striking out seven and allowing only two runs. That came on top of several other strong outings with Charlotte, after he was promoted last month from Birmingham. In AA, he was named Southern League Pitcher of the Year, and he appeared with the U.S. team in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game.

Kopech, drafted in 2014 in the first round by Boston, came to the White Sox organization in the Chris Sale trade. He is 6-3, 205 pounds and is from Mount Pleasant, Texas, about 120 miles east of Dallas.

According to several published reports in the past week, Kopech is not expected to be called up in September, because he has pitched 134 2/3 innings this season, more than any previous campaign in his young career.

Meanwhile, here’s how the Knights fared during the past week:

Monday: Cody Asche and Jacob May hit home runs, but Durham scored four runs in the top of the ninth and beat Charlotte 5-2.

Tuesday: David Holmberg pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-1 victory over Durham. Asche drove in the winning run with an eighth-inning double. Holmberg was called up by the White Sox three days later.

Wednesday: Asche, Robert Pena and Jake Peter hit home runs, but the Knights fell to Durham 10-6. Defense was a problem, as Charlotte committed five errors.

Thursday: Chris Volstad allowed no earned runs over seven innings, and Charlotte beat Durham 4-1 in an afternoon game that finished shortly before rain arrived.

Friday: Kopech pitched well in his five innings, but Norfolk beat up on Charlotte relievers and trounced the Knights 8-2.

Saturday: The Knights fell behind 6-0 after three innings and fell to Norfolk 8-4. D.J. Peterson and Casey Gillaspie homered for Charlotte.

Sunday: The game was not completed in time for deadline.

What’s Next: The Knights finish their 2017 season with a Labor Day home game at 2:05 p.m.