Maple Mike? Captain Calgary? SoroKKKKKa?
There is a great nickname there somewhere, and by the looks of it, Mike Soroka might need one sooner than many expected.
From a full-blown Atlanta Braves rebuild based around a crop of elite starting pitching prospects, a 20-year-old from Calgary has managed to catch the attention of Canada, and the rest of the baseball world. In a baseball climate that salivates over big arms and projectable tools, it has been Soroka, and his 60-grade control, that has skyrocketed up through the Braves organization and league-wide prospect rankings.
Projected as a mid-rotation starter, a 2015 draft profile concluded with ‘He’s going to take a while, but he definitely could see time with the big club.’
Well, he didn’t take a while… and He will DEFINITELY see time with the big club…he could very well be much more than a mid-rotation starter.
Soroka dominated AA in 2017 and is now on track to passing Kolby Allard, Sean Newcomb, Ian Anderson, Max Fried and Luiz Gohara (all highly regarded prospects) on the Braves totem poll of future starters. Gohara boasts the best fastball and slider in the system, Fried the best curve, and Allard changeup, but it is Soroka who made his MLB debut last week.
There is a common saying that ‘there is no such thing as a pitching prospect,’ but if there were, it would be Mike Soroka. Soroka checks nearly every box you would want from this elusive prospect pitcher. Nick Pollack of PitcherList examined Soroka’s MLB debut through a series of gifs and his MLB caliber stuff clearly showed up.
95 MPH Fastball?
Combined with a work-in-progress changeup that Soroka himself claims he is ‘trying to get better,’ and all enhanced by his almost idyllic 6’5 225 frame, Soroka’s strong MLB debut should be no shock. Soroka was expected to be where he is today when he was drafted in the first round, but he has somehow still managed to defy expectations.
Soroka has proven he is too good for minor league hitters, and frankly, in his debut, he may have shown he is too good for some major leaguers. He was touted as the best Canadian arm to enter the MLB draft in years and has made good on those expectations. The bar has now been raised for the 20-year-old, and the eyes of a country will be watching his next step, starting this Sunday.
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)