The 33rd overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Kopech signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million and began blossoming into one of the game's best pitching prospects before Boston made him and Yoan Moncada the centerpieces of a four-prospect trade that landed Chris Sale at the 2016 Winter Meetings. He finished among the Minor League strikeout leaders in each of the next two seasons before joining the White Sox in August 2018. He allowed just one run in his first three big league starts, then got rocked and showed diminished velocity in his fourth, after which he had Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2019.
Before his elbow reconstruction, Kopech earned comparisons to Noah Syndergaard because of his electric stuff. He worked at 95-99 mph with late run on his fastball, regularly pushed his heater into triple digits and legendarily hit 105 mph during a 2016 start. He also blew hitters away with an 85-89 mph slider with two-plane break.
Kopech was working on refining some softer stuff for his repertoire, showing a sinking changeup that got too firm at times and adding a curveball that has more velocity separation from his fastball. He doesn't have a history of providing consistent strikes, losing control when he rushes his delivery, though he did seem to make progress by totaling four walks in his final seven Triple-A starts. Assuming a normal recovery from Tommy John surgery, he should be able to get back on the path to becoming a frontline starter, though there are some scouts who wonder if he might wind up as a power closer.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
Kopech signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million as the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 Draft and indirectly brought a World Series championship to Boston as one of two mega-prospects (along with Yoan Moncada) included in four-player package sent to the White Sox in the December 2016 Chris Sale trade. He blossomed into one of the game's top pitching prospects in his new organization and gave up just one run in his first three big league starts last August. He got hammered and had diminished velocity in his fourth, after which he learned that he needed elbow reconstruction that will sideline him throughout 2019.
Before he got hurt, Kopech showcased some of the nastiest stuff in the Minor Leagues and earned comparisons to Noah Syndergaard. Hitters have great difficulty catching up to his fastball, which parks at 95-99 mph and often reaches triple digits with late running action. They're also overmatched by his mid- to upper-80s slider with two-plane break, a true wipeout offering at its best.
Kopech also throws a sinking changeup that has its moments but can get too firm, and he has added a curveball to give him an offering with greater velocity separation from his fastball. He has battled his control for much of his pro career, especially when he rushes his delivery, though he seemed to turn a corner when he totaled four walks in his final seven Triple-A starts. Assuming he makes the typical recovery associated with Tommy John surgery, he should be able to get back on the path of becoming a frontline starter.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 65 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 60
In the four-prospect package obtained from the Red Sox for Chris Sale at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox not only landed the consensus top prospect in baseball at the time (Yoan Moncada), but also a guy on the short list of the best pitching prospects (Kopech). Signed for $1.5 million as the 33rd overall choice in the 2014 Draft, he dominated upper-level hitters in his first two years in Chicago's system and made his big league debut this August, allowing a total of just one run in his first three starts. But after his fourth, he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will necessitate Tommy John surgery and sideline him until 2020.
Kopech throws as hard and is as difficult to hit as any starter in the Minor Leagues, which has prompted comparisons to Noah Syndergaard. His fastball, which sits at 96-99 mph, repeatedly hits triple digits with late run that keeps it off barrels. Hitters who try to sit on his heater get embarrassed by his upper-80s slider, which features two-plane break and is a plus-plus offering at its best.
Kopech just needs some refinement before he's ready to pitch at the front of a big league rotation. He'll flash a plus changeup with sink, though it's inconsistent and often more of a fringy offering. He walked 4.5 batters per nine innings through his first four years as a pro and has had control problems this season when he gets too quick with his lower half in his delivery, though he's often able to power his way out of self-created jams.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 60
Signed by the Red Sox for $1.5 million as the 33rd overall pick in 2014, Kopech drew a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned stimulant in 2015 and missed the first half of 2016 after breaking his pitching hand in a Spring Training altercation with a teammate. He returned with a vengeance, reportedly hitting 105 mph with his fastball in his second start and ranking as the top pitching prospect in the Arizona Fall League. Scouts liken his arsenal to that of Noah Syndergaard, which is why the White Sox targeted him in the Chris Sale trade that went down at the Winter Meetings.
Kopech throws exceptionally hard for a starting pitcher, routinely sitting at 96-98 mph and topping 100 with his fastball, which features late life that makes it even more difficult to catch up to. Hitters can't afford to cheat on his fastball because he can make them look silly with a slider that can top 90 mph. His sinking changeup isn't as reliable, though at its best it shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch.
The Red Sox helped Kopech tone down the complicated delivery with which he entered pro ball, though his control and command are still works in progress. Losing development time in his first two full pro seasons didn't help his cause, though he draws praise for his makeup despite the transgressions that sidelined him. He can become an ace if he learns to harness his stuff; if he can't, he still could have considerable upside as a closer.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
Signed for $1.5 million as the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 Draft by the Red Sox, Kopech overpowered low Class A hitters in 2015 before drawing a 50-game suspension in mid-July after testing positive for a banned stimulant. In 2016, he has made headlines both bad (breaking his pitching hand in a fight with a teammate during Spring Training, sidelining himself for three months) and good (reportedly hitting 105 mph with his fastball three starts after he returned). He was back in the news again in December, when Boston sent him to the White Sox as a key piece in the Chris Sale trade.
Few Minor League starters have a better fastball than Kopech, who sits at 96-98 mph and reaches triple digits with nasty late life. His breaking ball can also look make hitters look bad, as he has refined what once was a hybrid pitch into a slider that reaches the low 90s. The silver lining with his suspension is that it gave him some time to work on his changeup outside of game action, and it shows signs of becoming a weapon with late drop at the plate.
The Red Sox also used Kopech's mandated time off to work on toning down his delivery, which had featured a lot of twists and turns and some deep tilt in the back. He was athletic enough to pull that off but should have an easier time repeating his simplified mechanics. He's a potential frontline starter who'll move as quickly as he develops control and command.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
After the Red Sox whiffed on Andy Yount and Josh Garrett with first-round picks in the 1995 and 1996 Drafts, they didn't take a high school right-hander that early again until 2014. They couldn't resist taking Kopech with the 33rd overall choice and signed him for $1.5 million. He was enjoying a fine first full pro season until he drew a 50-game suspension in mid-July after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
Kopech works out of an unusual delivery that features lot of twists and turns and deep tilt in the back. His mechanics and lightning arm speed produce nasty stuff, starting with a fastball that sits in the low 90s, touches 97 mph and figures to get quicker as he fills out his projectable 6-foot-4 frame. When he stays on top of his breaking ball, it combines curveball depth and slider power.
Kopech had little need for a changeup as an amateur, so it's very much a work in progress. If his delivery doesn't prevent him from throwing quality strikes, he'll be able to pitch in the front half of a big league rotation.