White Sox prospect Michael Kopech shows off arm in Futures Game
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MIAMI — Touted White Sox prospect Michael Kopech, acquired in the Chris Sale deal and pitching for Class AA Birmingham, made quite an impression in Team USA’s 7-6 victory over Team World in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday.
Kopech threw nine pitches in a perfect third inning, including a 100.7 mph fastball to strike out fellow Sox minor-leaguer Yoan Moncada, ranked as the sport’s No. 1 prospect, to end the inning. He threw seven pitches 99.3 mph or faster.
“I never thought I’d be able to get a fastball by him, so to do that is exciting,” Kopech said. “I’m going to go talk to him in a minute and give him some grief for it.”
Said Moncada through an interpreter: “It was a fun at-bat. When you’re able to face a teammate, you have to enjoy the moment.”
Moncada, who is at Class AAA Charlotte, went 0-for-2 leading off for Team World, and he made a wild throw from second base that led to an unearned run. He was the Futures Game MVP last year.
Cubs farmhand Eloy Jimenez hit sixth (0-for-2, two strikeouts) and started in right field for Team World, while Sox farmhand Zack Collins entered as a substitute at catcher and went 0-for-1 for Team USA.
Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira also surpassed 100 mph.
RAYS’ HONEYWELL WINS MVP
More than two hours after pitching in the All-Star Futures Game, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Brent Honeywell was still thinking about delivery and location.
Where should his newly won MVP trophy go?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Honeywell said as he held the hardware at his locker. “My parents are probably going to have to play rock-paper-scissors for it.”
Honeywell, the only pitcher to throw more than one inning, struck out four in two scoreless innings Sunday to help a well-balanced U.S. side.
Honeywell was the first of 10 pitchers for the United States, and the group combined for 11 strikeouts. The first one came on the only screwball Honeywell threw — to Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers.
“I had thrown him everything else,” said Honeywell, a right-hander who is with Triple-A Durham. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right here.’ And it was a really good one.”
“I had faced him before and knew he had the screwball,” Verdugo said. “It dropped down into the zone. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat.”
U.S. TEAM STARTS FAST
By the fourth inning the U.S. team had nine hits, one by every starter. The World team had only one baserunner until the fifth, and by then the score was 7-0.
Josh Naylor of the Padres drove in the World team’s first run with a single in the fifth.
“Regardless of how you do, it’s a unique experience — a taste of the big leagues,” Naylor said.
The World team scored twice in the ninth before A.J. Puk of the Athletics got the final out for a save. The United States won for the seventh time in the past eight years.
With the major league trade deadline approaching, plenty of scouts were on hand for the showcase of top minor league prospects, which included 16 first-round picks.
Derek Fisher scored the first run and hit a two-run double , and Kyle Tucker hit an RBI double. Both are with the Astros.
Chance Sisco of the Orioles tripled and scored in the U.S. team’s two-run second inning. Lewis Brinson of the Brewers doubled home a run.
Yadier Alvarez of the Dodgers pitched the first inning, allowed one run and took the loss.
Second baseman Brendan Rodgers and first baseman Ryan McMahon, both of the Rockies, made fine defensive plays for the U.S. team.
“You don’t really realize how big this game is until you look down,” Rodgers said. “It’s the first time I’ve played with USA across my chest. Being able to do that is a lot of fun.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays, at 18 the youngest player in the game, singled twice and scored twice.
“It was a good experience,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “We have so many Dominicans in the majors and the minors. It was an honor to follow in their shoes. You learn from this experience.”
The home run sculpture at Marlins Park sat motionless all evening. It was the first Futures Game without a homer since 2004.