Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech has created plenty of hype for himself as he begins his big league career, but it’s another prospect that he saved the biggest praise for.
Speaking about outfielder Eloy Jimenez on Saturday, Kopech sent expectations into the stratosphere, as he compared his teammate to a legendary baseball player.
“I look at him as the Babe Ruth of our generation,” Kopech said. “He’s gonna be okay.”
Kopech, who will likely miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, said that there really isn’t an effective strategy for getting his talented teammate out.
“I don’t know if I’d try to get him out, but I’d try to get him off the plate,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve seen that guy hit it where no one can hit it, so I don’t know if there’s a pitch you can get by him.”
For his part, Jimenez had equally high praise for his fellow prospect.
"Yeah, he told me that in Triple-A," Jimenez said Saturday. "I feel proud and blessed and I think he is the (next) Nolan Ryan."
Kopech's time will have to wait a year, when the right-hander expects to return from Tommy John surgery. But Jimenez is coming soon to the South Side.
Acquired from the Cubs two years ago in a deal for pitcher Jose Quintana, Jimenez has spent his time getting ready, working on his defense and tearing up Double-A and Triple-A pitching. Last year, splitting time between the two levels, the 22-year-old outfielder hit .337 with 22 homers and is ranked by MLB.com as the third-best prospect in baseball.
Jimenez said he was "a little bit disappointed" when he was not called up at the end of last season. And he may not start this season with the big league club, as waiting a few weeks will allow the White Sox to add a year of control before he can become a free agent.
Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said, "We're just going to see how he looks and line it up over the course of the next couple weeks."
"He is going to be, in our opinion, a tremendous player for the Chicago White Sox for a long time. We all think he's going to make a significant impact on the field on this team this year and spent the bulk if not all the season in Chicago. When exactly that time starts remains to be seen," he said.