Boston Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech recently flashed the greatness that made him a #1 draft pick in 2014. People watch with curiosity and awe when Kopech throws. During a July 7th game against the Carolina Mudcats, Kopech struck out six in four innings. He also only gave up one hit. What was particularly impressive was how he threw an immaculate inning in the fourth. Such an accomplishment is no small task at all.
An immaculate inning in baseball is when the pitcher retires the side on nine pitches. That’s three strikes per batter for three outs. Only 75 pitchers in Major League Baseball history have ever thrown an immaculate inning. Out of those 75, only three were rookies. In fact, none in Major League Baseball were thrown between 1929 and 1952. Clay Buchholz and Pedro Martinez are the only two Red Sox pitchers to have accomplished the feat in team history. So seeing Kopech throw an immaculate inning this soon in his career is immaculate in itself. What is perhaps just as impressive is that several of Kopech’s pitches topped 100 MPH, including a 103 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. When someone like Kopech throws 103 MPH, it’s not going to be taken lightly.
Kopeck has not played without controversy. He received a 50-game season-ending suspension last summer for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Oxilofreine. Kopech broke his right hand in a fistfight with his roommate the following year, further delaying his return to baseball. So despite his brilliance on the mound, Kopeck still has a ways to go before he can reach the majors.
Major League Baseball currently ranks Kopech the fifth-best prospect in the Red Sox organization behind Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. Baseball Prospectus ranks him 98th overall. His high ranking is partly why the Red Sox continue to support him. Kopech himself is thankful. “I don’t want to be portrayed as a bad person by any means,” Kopech said in a June 16th Boston.com article. “I mean, the past is the past and I’m ready to just better myself.”