Chicago White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting, Nick Hostetler, was on 670 the Score's Spiegel and Parkins show yesterday. I recommend listening to the whole interview as Hostetler shares what he's done scouting players with makeup issues and his thoughts on Ian Hamilton.
What grabbed White Sox fans attention yesterday was the very last question asked by Matt Spiegel as they were wrapping up the segment. It was about Michael Kopech and the likelihood of him joining the starting rotation as after Spring Training.
What Hostetler said:
"He’s showing maturity beyond his years, work ethic, everything you want out of a guy that you want to be competing for a spot next spring training. I think he has not only the physical talent but the mental capabilities to do it. I fully expect him to compete for one next year.”
We've heard this phrasing before just this past Spring when wondering about the timetables for Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez. They all were "competing" for spots on the 25-man roster, but after Memorial Day it became clear that the trio wasn't going to see time in the major leagues until Super Two status wouldn't be an issue.
Same will happen to Michael Kopech, and might as well mention Eloy Jimenez too because he's destroying AA pitching. No matter how amazing Kopech is in Glendale during March, he will start 2018 in Charlotte to work on things. Like taking the ball every five days and learning how to pitch deeper into games. Using Lopez and Giolito as guides, we most likely won't see Kopech until August of 2018.
Now a look around the AL Central, who might have two playoff teams this season.
The Tribe are deadlocked with the Boston Red Sox for second best record in the American League. What seemed like a foregone conclusion a month ago, both teams are also catching the Houston Astros for home field advantage, now just 5.5 games back.
As SB Nation's Marc Normandin writes, the Indians might be the best team in the AL. Which I agree with him, it's just that I thought the Indians would have already wrapped up the division race by now. Yes, Houston has a great offense, and Boston has Chris Sale, but I like the Indians chances of winning back-to-back AL pennants. Edwin Encarnacion has reached 30 home runs this season, Jose Ramirez is worth 4.4 WAR according to baseball-reference.com, and Carlos Carrasco is healthy.
That last point is pivotal as the Indians almost won the World Series with a rotation of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin. Replacing Tomlin with Carrasco might just be enough for the first World Series title in Cleveland since 1948. I wouldn't put it past them to catch the Astros in September.
Somehow, the Twins are one game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the last playoff spot. Oh hey Baltimore, I didn't see you there also 1.5 games back. I thought you guys were dead.
Grant Brisbee in his funny way took a look at the AL Wild Card race and how stupid this all is.
What's not working in the Twins favor is they only have two more games against the White Sox. If current trends hold, Jorge Polanco will turn back into a pumpkin late Thursday afternoon. It's impressive they are holding teams back without their best player, Miguel Sano who is on the DL with a shin injury.
Then again - Byron Buxton is finally playing to the level we all thought he would since becoming the best prospect in baseball. On June 10th, Buxton was hitting .198/.272/.275. That's improved to .249/.310/.402, and with his incredible defense, Buxton is at 4.3 bWAR. Maybe the player we all feared would rule the division is finally here.
With this recent play, the tone from Minneapolis has changed. Star Tribune's Jim Souhan writes that the Twins should make the playoffs. If the race comes down to Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Baltimore for the final spot, I like the Orioles because of previous experience (and Manny Machado). Even if the Twins find a way to outlast everyone, I don't think they will be an easy out for the New York Yankees. Especially if Ervin Santana starts that game.
Kansas City Royals
To say this has been a bad week for the Royals would be an understatement. Last week, they were just a game back of the final playoff spot. Then they decided to stop scoring runs which is a very bold strategy. Royals Review had a great piece on how just wacky this unfortunate run has been.
Making matters worse, Danny Duffy was arrested for a DUI in a Burger King parking lot.
What the short term impact will be is unknown thanks to MLB not having a DUI policy. I strongly recommend reading Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan's take on the situation. As someone that has dealt with a significant personal loss, and with the deaths of Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura last year, MLB needs to address this in the offseason with a new policy. It's not about punishing players. It's about keeping them safe because we all know fans of this sport don't need to see or hear about another tragic death of a star player gone too soon.
Will Justin Verlander make his start today?
Trade interest in Justin Verlander has increased this week; a team other than #Astros has emerged as possible suitor, source says. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 29, 2017
Justin Verlander set to start for #Tigers in less than 5 hours; at the moment, no indication that he will be scratched due to trade talks.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 30, 2017
Will the San Francisco Giants get a jump start on the offseason?
#SFGiants only want to trade for Justin Upton if they are certain (or close to it) that he won't opt-out; difficult to guarantee that. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 30, 2017
I think the Tigers are going to be tearing it all down in the offseason. I'm assuming Verlander doesn't want to be around for a rebuild, and that's not what Upton signed up for two offseasons ago. We'll get to see how a major league team with non-team friendly deals move players while trying to rebuild their pipeline. Good luck with that.