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White Sox invite top pitching prospect Michael Kopech to spring training

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White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech was among the non-roster players given an invitation to spring training, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. Though unlikely, Kopech does have a chance to make the starting rotation out of camp.

Kopech, 21, is the best pitching prospect, No. 2 overall in the White Sox system, and No. 10 overall in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He spent most of last season with Double-A Birmingham, posting a 2.87 ERA with a 155/60 K/BB ratio in 119 1/3 innings. He made three successful starts with Triple-A Charlotte, yielding five runs in 15 innings.

Kopech throws hard, wielding a fastball that reaches into the triple digits with regularity. He also throws a hard slider regarded as an above-average weapon. The right-hander has a change-up that is still believed to be a work in progress.

Most likely, Kopech starts the year at Triple-A and stays down there until the White Sox can be sure they get an extra year of control, not unlike the way the Cubs handled Kris Bryant in his rookie season. Following that, Kopech will get a call up to the big leagues where he’ll presumably stay for good. He should be one of the more interesting prospects to watch during the 2018 season.

Kopech pitched in the Futures Game last year, providing a brief glimpse of his skills:

Rays acquire C.J. Cron from Angels

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The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.

Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.