From One Setback To Another For Kopech

FORT MYERS, FLA.—Last July, Michael Kopech learned that his appeal of a 50-game suspension for a positive test for the stimulant Oxilofrine had been rejected. His first full professional season with a Red Sox affiliate had come to an unexpected, crashing halt.

The 19-year-old was frustrated, angry and disappointed. But his team’s continued faith in him also renewed his feeling of purpose.

“When I was told to come down (to Fort Myers), Ben Crockett told me over the phone, ‘Come down here and treat it as a chance to get better,’” said Kopech. “That’s what I planned on anyway, but to hear them already supporting me for next season was a big push.”

Kopech, 19, had been impressive in his debut thanks to arm strength. His mid-90s fastball eclipsed 100 on occasion, and his power curve proved sufficient to achieve success in low Class A Greenville.

But while those raw materials were impressive, he didn’t necessarily look like a future starter. His max-effort delivery limited his command, and his lack of a viable changeup raised questions.

Removed from game situations, Kopech focused on both concerns. By the time he returned to games for the instructional league, “He was a more polished pitcher,” Crockett said. “That changeup was a more advanced pitch than what we had seen previously. From a delivery standpoint, he was more consistent, a little bit less across his body and more under control.”

With his suspension behind him, Kopech walked into another setback in spring training when he broke his hand. Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen confirmed media reports that Kopech broke his pitching hand in an altercation with a teammate.

The club wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury. “It’s very disappointing. It was stupid,” Hazen told reporters.

“He’s going to have to grow up, obviously, with the things that have happened so far. He’s got a long road to go to get to the big leagues.”


• Righthander Pat Light worked in the Puerto Rican winter league to eliminate pitch-tipping, an issue that was identified by Caguas manager Alex Cora.

• Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, 19, weighed 182 pounds early in spring training, up from 160 in 2015.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone