The Southern League, which operates as a collection of Double-A affiliates of MLB franchises, announced its MVP and Pitcher of the Year selections on Wednesday.
Taking home the MVP hardware was Jackson Generals first baseman Kevin Cron, who is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. Earning Pitcher of the Year honors was flame-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech of the Birmingham Barons, an extension of the Chicago White Sox.
Cron comes into the day as a .280 hitter with a .354 on-base percentage, slugging his way to the crown. He has clobbered 23 home runs and driven in 87 runs while adding 35 doubles. Just a year ago in his first taste of Double-A, he batted just .222 for the entire year, making significant improvement during his age-24 year in 2017.
The Diamondbacks selected Cron in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of TCU. Before he went off to play collegiately, he was a local product that passed on the Seattle Mariners when they made him a third-round pick out of high school in Phoenix in 2011.
In Kopech’s first taste of Double-A, he made 22 starts this season and posted an 8-7 record with a 2.87 ERA. Known for his sizzling fastball, he has racked up 155 strikeouts in 119.1 innings of work, also making two starts up at Triple-A Charlotte.
Kopech was acquired by Chicago in the deal that sent left-handed ace Chris Sale to Boston during this past offseason. A No. 1 pick in his own right back in 2014, Kopech is just 22 years old and appears on the precipice of joining the White Sox in the not too distant future.