September 7, 2017 - Southern League (SL) - Birmingham Barons
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Birmingham Barons announced today that pitcher Michael Kopech has been named the 2017 Barons' Pitcher of the Year and Jake Peter has been named the Player of the Year.
"It's an incredible honor to be named the Barons' Pitcher of the Year," Kopech said. "Overall my time spent in Birmingham was a blast. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities I had with my teammates and coaching staff, the Birmingham community and the Southern League."
Kopech, 21, was 8-7, with a 2.87 ERA in 22 starts for the Barons this season. The No. 1 pitching prospect in MLB led the Southern League and was sixth in all of Minor League Baseball with 155 strikeouts this season before his August 18 promotion to Triple-A Charlotte. Kopech, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox as part of a four-player package for Chris Sale this offseason, was 4-1, with a 0.66 ERA in his last six starts with the Barons.
At the time of his promotion, Kopech was amongst the top 10 in the Southern League in multiple pitching categories. The right-hander was tied for eighth in wins (8), fourth in ERA (2.87), first amongst qualified starters in hits allowed (77), batting average against (.184), strikeouts (155) and strikeouts per nine innings pitched (11.69). Currently ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 11 overall prospect and the No. 1 pitching prospect, Kopech also represented the White Sox in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game in Miami in July, pitching a scoreless inning for Team USA.
An original first-round pick (33rd overall) out of Mount Pleasant (Texas) High School by the Boston Red Sox in 2014, Kopech spent parts of three seasons in the Red Sox organization, progressed to Class-A Advanced Salem in 2016. Overall with the Red Sox, Kopech went 8-7, with a 2.61 ERA, while striking out 172 in 134.2 innings pitched.
Peter, 24, began the 2017 season on the Barons opening day roster and played in 75 games for Birmingham, before his promotion to Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. The left-handed hitting utility man finished his year in Birmingham with a .270 average, to go along with four home runs and 21 RBIs. In his final month with the Barons, Peter hit .355 (33-for-93), raising his season average from .229 to .270 in the process, which included a nine-game hitting streak.
"It's a very humbling honor to be named the Barons' Player of the Year," Peter said. "I was fortunate enough to spend parts of the last two seasons in Birmingham and loved it. I was blessed with great teammates and coaches that made going to the field easy every day. (Manager) Julio (Vinas), (hitting coach) Cole (Armstrong), (pitching coach) Jose (Bautista), (trainer) James (Kruk), (strength coach) Timmy (Rodmaker) are a big reason why I was able to have the success I did."
Peter, a seventh-round pick in 2014 out of Creighton, went on to play in 45 games with the Knights this season and hit .292, with nine home runs and 28 RBIs. Combined between the Barons and the Knights, Peter finished the year with a .279 average, 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.
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