Renteria responds to White Sox prospect Kopech thinking he’s ready for majors

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Michael Kopech said he’s ready to play for the White Sox. | Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech is anxiously waiting for his chance to play in the majors.

When asked when he expects to receive the call, Kopech joked: “For the most part, I just refer those questions to [general manager]Rick Hahn.”

The confidence of Kopech, who is ranked as the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is unmatched. He was adamant that he will be a starting pitcher. And although he isn’t expected to start the season with the White Sox, Kopech said he is ready to play in the majors.

“I’m ready. I’m not going to say that I should be there, and I deserve to be there, because I haven’t earned anything yet,” Kopech said Thursday. “But I feel like I’m ready if I get the call. I don’t want to be someone who — when I get the call — is shaken up, nervous, overwhelmed, whatever. I want to feel prepared, and I feel that I am.”

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And he looks like he could be ready soon, too. Kopech, 21, was 9-8 with a 2.88 ERA over 25 combined starts with Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte last season. In 134⅓ innings, he had 172 strikeouts while holding batters to a .193 average.

Manager Rick Renteria said Kopech’s confidence is reassuring.

“We need them to believe and know in their hearts that they’re ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Renteria said. “I can’t take that away from them because that’s real. It’s tangible. You can feel it. And we’re hoping he’s going to be a part of us really soon.”

Renteria said the plan is to have Kopech start the season with Charlotte, where he pitched his last three starts of 2017, and continue to work on developing his changeup. Kopech already has an explosive breaking ball and fastball, which has been clocked at 110 mph.

Kopech said he is focused on perfecting his changeup.

“I really just only do what I can control,” Kopech said. “I’m going to try to put the pressure on them to get me up whenever they think I’m ready.”

So when will Kopech make his first appearance at Guaranteed Rate Field? Renteria wouldn’t exactly say.

“I don’t want to put a timetable on it for him whether it’s soon or later,” Renteria said. “But he certainly has the drive, the heart and the competitiveness to change or put himself in a position that would put himself in the big leagues.”

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