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Matt Kent needed confirmation. After all, even though he’d seen plenty of triple-digit readings from Michael Kopech, he had never seen — and probably never even imagined — seeing the number that popped up on his radar gun as he charted his teammate’s start for High A Salem against Wilmington on July 13.

“Our gun said it and the opposing team’s gun said it as well. We all looked at each other and said, ‘Two guns had it. I guess it’s right,’ ” Kent said. “You can’t really process it because you see the number but it’s on two [radar guns]. You’re like, ‘All right. I guess he can throw 105 [miles per hour] then. Kudos to him.’ ”


Kopech, making just his second start with Salem after missing nearly three weeks with what he described as a hamstring strain, initially treated the reading with amusement, and then with a shrug.

“My trainer actually texted me to ask about my velocity, to check to see if I was 100 percent or not. Apparently I was,” Kopech said. “I didn’t really think anything of it. The first thing I did when I saw it was look to see if it was a ball or a strike. It was a ball, so I was like, ‘All right, it doesn’t matter.’ ”

Kopech, of course, is right. A 105-m.p.h. ball does little to aid a pitcher’s cause. Nonetheless, the idea of anyone throwing 105 is absurd. Aroldis Chapman is the only big leaguer to throw a pitch that fast this year. Only two starters — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals — have reached 101.

And so, Kopech’s reading created a ripple throughout the game. Even setting aside his 105-m.p.h. offering, the fact that he has typically averaged 98 while regularly hitting 101 puts him in the class of starters with the most arm strength.


Immediately, from a national perspective, Kopech stopped being the Red Sox prospect who missed almost a full year while he encountered off-field trouble (a positive test for a banned stimulant in 2015, a broken bone in his hand from a spring training fight with a teammate) and started being the 20-year-old with a golden arm.

“A lot of people that you could arguably say weren’t fans of me started being a lot nicer,” said Kopech. “I hope I can make people realize that I’m working my butt off every day to try to become a big leaguer, and a power arm in the big leagues at that. . . . There’s still a lot of stuff I’m working hard on every day that I’m hoping pays off as well. I obviously hope people see that. I hope people see me as a hard-working kid who wants to make it to the bigs like everyone else.”

Kopech headlines a growing wave of power pitchers in the Red Sox’ system. He is one of seven Sox pitchers to hit triple digits this year and one of 11 to hit at least 99 m.p.h. That’s up from five pitchers who topped 100 m.p.h. last year and eight who hit 99. That growth represents not just a Red Sox trend but one that exists across the game.

“We’re creeping to the point where average [big league velocity] is close to 93 m.p.h. this year, which is crazy, because on the scouting scale, it was always 90-91. That’s the new 50 on the [20-to-80] scouting scale,” said Red Sox director of pitching analysis and development Brian Bannister. “So I think velocity is less effective, and you’re seeing things like knuckleballs become more effective because it’s more effective than the crowd. A guy like Steven Wright is standing out from all the velocity in the major leagues this year.”


Kopech is mindful that his future will be determined more by his ability to develop a three-pitch mix that he can command than just throwing hard.

Kopech allowed one run over 4⅓ innings in his start for Salem on Thursday, but also walked five to go with five strikeouts. On the season, he has a 1.61 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 15 walks in 22⅓ innings.

While he has seen improvement in his breaking ball — now a true power slider (86-90-m.p.h.) rather than a less effective slurve last year in Single A Greenville — he also noted the need for improvement in his changeup, which has too often come out of his hand like “a batting practice fastball.” He sees a source of inspiration in the Mets rotation.

“I like Syndergaard a lot,” said Kopech. “He’s been a guy that’s been throwing triple digits for a few years now as a starter. You don’t see that too often. Everyone kind of expects me to be a relief pitcher in the next couple of years. I don’t want that, personally. I’d like to be that type of starter where everyone looks at it like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ ”


Taking a dip

Yoan Moncada, who has played solely at second base this year, has started to take grounders at third base in Double A Portland. The Red Sox expect that he’ll see game action this year at a position other than second base, though that may not happen until the fall instructional league or winter ball. Offensively, Moncada is amidst his steepest slump since getting to Double A. In last eight games entering Thursday, he was 4 for 33 (.121) with two walks and 16 strikeouts, lowering his Double A average to .270 with a .354 OBP and .548 slugging mark . . . Third baseman Rafael Devers is hammering the ball with tremendous consistency in Salem. He’s hitting .360/.413/.660 in July with 20 extra-base hits, second most in the minor leagues this month.

Grooming process

Lefthander Jason Groome, the Red Sox’ first-round pick, is throwing and working out in Fort Myers, Fla., but has not yet begun throwing off a mound. As such, there’s no specific timetable for when he’ll make his pro debut . . . At a time when the Red Sox continue to look for bullpen help, it’s worth noting that former independent league lefthander Robby Scott has dominated lefthanded hitters in Triple A. Lefties are hitting just .167/.217/.256 against the 26-year-old, with 30.1 percent of their plate appearances ending in a strikeout. Scott has a 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk rate against lefties . . . Jose Sermo, a 25-year-old middle infielder for Salem, had a three-homer game on Tuesday, the first for a Salem player since 2006, before the team was affiliated with the Red Sox. Sermo, whom the Red Sox signed out of an independent league earlier this year, has 14 homers in 157 affiliated minor league games in the Brewers and Red Sox systems.


Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.