A big piece of the White Sox’ future is about to make one of their most anticipated debuts.
During their 7-6 victory Sunday against the Royals, the Sox said top pitching prospect Michael Kopech will start Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Twins. Kopech, who is ranked the No. 13 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA at Class AAA Charlotte and leads the minor leagues with 170 strikeouts.
Kopech has taken a big step forward recently, going 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his last seven starts. He also has worked past the control problems that plagued him earlier in the season, with no walks in his last 24 innings.
‘‘We hope he comes in comfortable, relaxed and focused and just goes out there as himself,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘You don’t know what it’s like until you get here and experience it. Hopefully it’s a good and easy transition and he continues to do what he’s been doing down there, which is execute and trust his stuff.’’
The clamor for the Sox to call up Kopech and outfielder Eloy Jimenez has been increasing because both have been tearing up Class AAA. In late July, however, general manager Rick Hahn explained the checklist the Sox require players to tick off involves more than what they’re putting in a box score.
Apparently, Kopech answered those questions.
‘‘It’s exciting,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘I think it’s an exciting time for all of us. You know, he’s one man. Very gifted, obviously, someone his teammates are sure to welcome. He’s someone that the fans and [the media] have been hoping at some point he’d be getting here.
‘‘He’s been throwing very, very well and doing a nice job of putting himself on track, and I think that the organization feels that right now, this is the right time to allow him to make a step.’’
Kopech’s arrival marks another step in the Sox’ rebuild. The 22-year-old right-hander was acquired from the Red Sox as part of the trade for left-hander Chris Sale in December 2016 that kick-started the Sox’ teardown. Since then, the Sox have struggled badly on the field but have built up their farm system, which might bring about a much happier future.
‘‘Everybody’s expecting big things, but you’ve got to remember he’s still young,’’ said catcher Kevan Smith, who caught Kopech in Charlotte. ‘‘There’s still a development phase to what he’s going through.’’
Still, there’s reason for the Sox’ brass and their fans to dream about what might be. Known for his blazing fastball, Kopech’s control and array of pitches have improved to the point where he has earned the chance to show what he can do in the majors.
‘‘It’s going to be good, it’s going to be good,’’ right-hander Reynaldo Lopez said through a translator. ‘‘We’re going to have one of the best prospects in the game with us soon. It’s good to have that kind of [reinforcement] in this moment of the season. He’s one of the best, and everybody thinks that he’s supposed to be a superstar. We’re all excited.’’
Smith certainly sounds that way.
‘‘Any guy that steps in the box, they’re going to, for one, feel his presence out on the mound,’’ Smith said. ‘‘When he’s hitting his spots and filling up the strike zone, he’s an impressive guy to watch.’’