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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:

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.