Top White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech has UCL tear, likely to have Tommy John surgery

The Chicago White Sox announced Friday that top pitching prospect Michael Kopech has suffered a UCL tear in his pitching elbow and will likely undergo Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old is expected to miss all of next season and be ready for 2020 if he opts for surgery.

The hard-throwing right-hander — who can hit 100 mph — is ranked as baseball’s No. 13 prospect by MLB prospect watch. The White Sox obtained Kopech along with Yoan Moncada as part of the deal that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

Kopech felt arm issues prior to Wednesday’s start

Kopech told the Tribune his arm felt tight before Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. Tests on Friday revealed the UCL tear.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for me,” Kopech told the Chicago Tribune. “This is rock bottom. To say it was unexpected is an understatement.”

The White Sox don’t expect to have elite pitching prospect Michael Kopech until 2020 after he suffered a torn UCL. (AP)

Kopech draws comparisons to Noah Syndergaard

With a fastball that can reach triple digits and regularly sits in the high 90s along with an upper 80s slider, Kopech has drawn comparisons to New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Kopech is also famous in the baseball community for once saying he wanted to reach 107 MPH.

He’s pitched 14.1 innings with the White Sox this season, compiling 15 strikeouts while walking two. His MLB ERA jumped from 0.82 to 5.02 after he gave up seven runs on nine hits over 3.1 innings Wednesday against the Tigers. Prior to Wednesday’s loss, Kopech had allowed one run over 11 innings in his first three Major League starts.

In 395.2 minor league innings pitched since 2014, Kopech has registered 514 strikeouts and 194 walks while compiling a 3.05 ERA and 1.213 WHIP.

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