MIAMI -- Michael Kopech got his wish. A few hours before Sunday's SiriusXM Futures Game began, the hard-throwing pitcher said he wanted to take on fellow White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada. It would be a chance to pit Kopech's high-octane fastball against Moncada's potent bat.
"If I strike him out," Kopech said, "I'm going to talk to him about it after the game."
The stars aligned in the third inning of the United States' 7-6 victory over the World team at Marlins Park in the 19th Futures Game. Kopech breezed through the first two World hitters that he faced and was then tasked with taking on Moncada, who is not only Chicago's No. 1 prospect, but the No. 1 prospect in baseball, per MLBPipeline.com.
Kopech and Moncada -- acquired from the Red Sox in December as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston -- are key parts of the future core for the White Sox. With Chicago catching prospect Zack Collins (No. 7 on the team's Top 30 prospects list) also on the U.S. roster, the White Sox were one of four teams to have three players in the annual showcase event.
"That's something that makes you feel proud," Moncada said through an intepreter. "You have three guys here that are trying to do their best, not just for us, but also for the organization, just to represent the organization in a good way."
In the third inning, Kopech represented the White Sox with a powerful display.
The 21-year-old righty started off with a slider, which tailed low and inside to Moncada, who danced out of the way of the dirt-bound pitch. From there, Kopech challenged the White Sox second baseman with only fastballs. The first one buzzed in at 99 mph, and Moncada swung through it for strike one. Next, Kopech fired a 100 mph fastball low and away -- on the corner for a called second strike.
The knockout punch came courtesy of a 101-mph four-seamer, which was elevated away, but enticing enough to generate another swing and miss from Moncada. Kopech spun around on the mound, hiding his reaction from Moncada, who walked back to the first-base dugout.
"I never thought I'd be able to get a fastball by him," Kopech said with a smile. "So, to be able to do that was exciting. ... I'm going to go talk to him here in a minute and give him a little crap for it. We'll see how it goes."
Moncada, 22, has hit .282 with 11 home runs, 16 steals, 23 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 54 runs and an .831 OPS in 73 games this season for Triple-A Charlotte. He missed some time in May with a left thumb injury, but said he is fully recovered from that issue. Moncada added that he is trying not to think too much about a potential promotion to Chicago.
"This is a process,"said Moncada, who went 0-for-2 in the Futures Game. "I'm just getting ready for when the team decides to make that call. I will be ready for that call. I feel ready."
Through 16 starts for Double-A Birmingham this season, Kopech has piled up 101 strikeouts against 53 walks in 78 1/3 innings, posting a 4.02 ERA. The righty is Chicago's No. 2 prospect, as well as the 11th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. Kopech said he was thrilled to be included in the Futures Game, especially because it gives him a glimpse of his ultimate goal.
"We all get to kind of experience big league lifestyle for a day," Kopech said. "That's all we really want to experience out of this, is kind of get a taste of the big leagues. It kind of makes us a little more hungry for the real thing."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.