Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech reportedly threw a baseball harder Wednesday night than any major league hurler has this season.
Two radar guns at Salem’s LewisGale Field clocked one Kopech fastball at a mind-blowing speed of 105 mph, according to Baseball America.
“We did have a reading of 105,” Salem Red Sox manager Joe Oliver told the publication. “We double-checked. Another gun beside ours had 105 as well.”
No video has surfaced of the right-hander’s heater, but if those guns were accurate, it would go down as one of the fastest pitches ever recorded. New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman currently holds the record, having blown a 105.1 mph fastball past Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen in 2011.
Chapman also boasts the four fastest pitches thrown in the majors this season, the hardest of which clocked in at 103.8 mph, per MLB’s Statcast.
But what makes Kopech’s feat even more impressive is that unlike Chapman, he is not a reliever. He’s a starter, and his monumental pitch came during an outing in which he scattered four hits over five scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking just one.
Off-field issues have stunted Kopech’s development — he was suspended 50 games last year for a positive drug test and missed the first half of this season after breaking his hand in a fight with a teammate — but when he has been on the mound, he’s been electric.
The 2014 first-round draft pick has yet to allow a run this season in three starts between Low-A Lowell and High-A Salem, giving up nine hits over 13 1/3 innings while walking eight and striking out 18. He regularly tops 100 mph with his pitches and closed out his first High-A start last week by striking out the side on nine pitches in his final inning.
“It’s a shame,” Oliver told Baseball America. “You’re looking at a kid who got a little sidetracked in spring training. He might have thrown up some pretty decent numbers and advanced to the next level. We told him, don’t try to make up for lost time. Learn from it.”
Kopech appears to be doing both.
Thumbnail photo via Reid Compton/USA TODAY Sports Images