Continuing my countdown of the Atlanta Braves top prospects, today we take a look at right-hander Mike Soroka.
Previous Get To Know A Prospect Entries:
Mike Soroka, RHP
2016 Level: A Rome
25 G, 24 GS
Mike Soroka was a 1st-round pick (28th overall) by Atlanta in the 2015 draft, a compensation pick from the loss of Ervin Santana in free agency. Soroka was a prep star from Calgary Christian HS in Alberta and a member of the Canadian Junior National Team. He trained with former Brave and fellow Canadian Chris Reitsma. Soroka impressed in his pro debut in the rookie leagues, pitching to a 3.71 ERA with 37 strikeouts to five walks in 34 innings. He was then was assigned to class-A Rome for 2016 as the fourth youngest player in the South Atlantic League. Despite his youth, Soroka was Rome’s best and most consistent starting pitcher in the first half (2.92 ERA, 15 walks, 65 strikeouts in 71 innings). Soroka faded slightly in the heat of July, but rallied in August and was brilliant in his two playoff starts, opening each playoff series with a win and pitching to a combined 0.61 ERA in 14.2 innings, striking out 10 and walking only one batter. His 158 innings total was the highest workload by a high school first-rounder in his first full season in 10 years. Soroka was able to rack up those innings by being extremely efficient, generating a 52% groundball rate and averaging slightly over 3.5 pitches thrown per batter. Baseball America named him as the #7 prospect in the South Atlantic League.
Soroka is 6’-4” and 195 pounds with a repeatable, clean delivery out of a 3-quarters arm slot. While his pure “stuff” may not play up to the levels of his rotation-mates, Soroka is ahead of them in command and control, and already has five pitches that rate average to plus. Soroka has a two-seam and a four-seam fastball that can be difficult for a hitter to pick up. The two-seamer is a sinker while the four-seamer is a cutter, and both sit 90-93, but he can reach back for 95 when needed. His best off-speed offering is a change-up that has enough sink that it can be effective against both left- and right-handed batters. His fourth pitch is a curve that breaks horizontally down and away from right-handed batters.
Despite his youth, Mike Soroka’s development has been rapid, and of all the Braves impressive stable of 20-and-under pitching studs, he has the most feel for his craft. He will likely start the season in class-A+ Florida, but if all goes well, a mid-season promotion to AA Mississippi wouldn’t be surprising. Soroka’s ability to miss bats and not walk batters makes him one of the more well-rounded pitchers in the organization, and should help him rise through the system quickly.