Braves Prospect Profile: Mike Soroka
The Atlanta Braves already welcomed one top prospect to the big leagues this season. Now another is making his way to The Show.
Right-hander Mike Soroka has opened eyes at every stop in the minor league system and on Tuesday he was promoted to the major leagues, where he will make his debut against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
It’s not often the Braves have a pitcher this young take the ball. At 20 years, 270 days of age, Soroka will become the youngest Braves pitcher to make his major league debut since Julio Teheran on May 7, 2011, when he was 20 years, 100 days old.
Soroka was a first round selection by the Braves in 2015. The Calgary, Canada, native has shown an uncanny pitching acumen while developing into a physical presence on the mound. The numbers bear out exactly how talented this young righty has become in a short amount of time.
He has already blitzed through Atlanta’s minor league system.
Soroka went 9-9 with a 3.02 ERA and 32BB/125K in 143 innings as a 18-year-old with Low-A Rome. More than just those results, his mound presence that season led the club to have Soroka skip High-A altogether. Instead, he advanced directly to the Double-A Southern League in 2017. All he did there was post a 2.75 ERA in 153.2 IP across 26 starts.
He wasn’t the only 19-year-old year old hurler who started last season in Mississippi. Fellow 2015 draftee Kolby Allard was a big part of that rotation as well, and also proved up to the challenge. It’s almost impossible to mention one without bringing up the other. Soroka is just nine days older than Allard, who was taken just 14 picks ahead of Soroka in the draft three years ago. The righty-lefty duo represented the two youngest players in the International League prior to Soroka’s promotion.
Age hasn’t stopped those two from being among the best pitchers in Triple-A thus far.
Soroka and Allard became fast friends and have shared their experiences on the mound to further their development. That kinship has helped drive both men to succeed at each level along the way. Soroka has emerged as one of the top prospects in the game, with Allard also appearing on the various Top 100 lists. Pretty impressive work for a pair of kids fresh out of high school and routinely among the youngest players in every league they’ve played.
This season, Soroka is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in four starts. He has struck out 24 batters against just five walks across 22.2 IP and has yet to surrender a home run.
Yes, Soroka has all the tools that a young pitcher could ask for to be successful. It’s what he does from the preparation and mental side of the game that truly sets him apart.
I had a chance to catch up with Soroka during the spring to get his thoughts on what will be a very eventful year. This should provide you with a sufficient glimpse into the mind of one of the brighest young pitchers in the game today.
GM: Flashing back to 2017, it was a big challenge that the organization handed you guys at 19 years old, yourself and Kolby, heading to Double-A and having good seasons and good showings for yourselves. Another challenge awaits, but what did you take out of 2017, at that age against the competition, as you climb through the ranks toward the big leagues?
MS: Really, it’s a big confidence booster when you can go out there and compete every single day. I think we both noticed that right off the bat. You make good pitches and then you attack and you’re going to get outs. This year’s a little more command over control oriented. It’s not so much about, maybe 3-1 to the three-hole hitter, you’re not trying to put one in the zone just to not walk him. You want to make your pitch. You always want to make your pitch. You know, don’t give in. You’re going to have games where it’s not quite there, but it’s a lot better to battle through that then just start trying to lay them in the middle of the zone. That’s how you get hurt and that’s how quick runs happen. I think that’s definitely one thing I came away with. You know, just dominating every single pitch. You start taking pitches off and that’s how big innings start, so I think it’s a lot easier once you get up there to do that, because you know that and it’s a lot more evident in lower levels. You can take innings off, pitches off and your stuff might be good enough where you don’t get hurt, but I think now Double-A and up, I think really you gotta be on every single pitch, because 1-9 there’s a reason that they’re there. Most of them have the same kind of aspirations you do.
GM: Physically and mechanically, those are big components, but it sounds like for you it continues to be as you go through, sharpening the mental game and figuring out ways to attack hitters to get the results you want…
MS: Yeah, I mean, attacking and having intentions of being dominant is the only way that you develop physically and mechanically. You’re only going to learn when something goes wrong and when you make a mistake. We’ve both talked about this. We’d much rather make a mistake on our pitch and a pitch we thought was the right pitch to throw rather than make a mistake on something we weren’t convicted with. So, physical game is going to come. We’re both still getting older, still growing, so I have good trust in that. Also, I think it helps being from the north a little bit. I hadn’t thrown quite as much when I was younger and I’m definitely feeling every spring come up, there’s a little more life, a little more action. Things are just a little easier as it goes on. I hope to keep that upward trend going physically and also mentally.
GM: It’s your third full season of pro-ball and Triple-A presents a new set of challenges. What have you been thinking as far as getting your mindset ready for what comes in 2018? Because once you get to Gwinnett, there’s only one phone call to go before you could be up doing some big things in Atlanta…
MS: Obviously, you think about it. You’d be lying if you said you weren’t thinking about it. Because that’s the dream, right? There’s I don’t know, I think it’s about 17,000 ever to play in the big leagues, so to consider yourself one of that group, it’s pretty hard to not think about it. I think it’s just about keeping it positive, keeping things simple and realizing that if you do your job, it’s out of your control when you get that call. Just having the confidence that if you do your job the way you can, it will come. As far as Triple-A goes too, you talk to a lot of pitching coaches. I got a chance to talk to (Mississippi pitching coach) Dennis Llewellyn a ton at the end of the year about Triple-A. Pitching to some of the older teams in Double-A, you get a good sense of what that might be like. Just a little bit different approaches and that’s mainly it. There’s a ton inside that obviously, but it’s still the same game. Guys just get a little better, a little more experienced. Like I said, if you make your pitch, you’re going to get guys out on a consistent basis. So, I think that’s a pretty simple goal to have.