Atlanta Braves: Michael Soroka and why baseball isn't always fair

The story of Michael Soroka's time with the Braves is one of heartbreak and perseverance
Jul 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Atlanta Braves pitcher Michael Soroka (40) throws a pitch
Jul 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Michael Soroka (40) throws a pitch / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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When the Atlanta Braves drafted Michael Soroka 28th overall in the 2015 draft, few thought that he would become the fan favorite that he has become. While he certainly had an intriguing blend of command, stuff, and projection, he wasn't even the most highly regarded pitching prospect the Braves drafted that year as that honor went to Kolby Allard who the Braves picked 14 spots ahead of him.

However, Soroka proved all his doubters wrong once he got to the pros as it became clear that he was a special player with the talent and mental approach to the game to become a star. Many thought that he was going to be a key cog in the Braves' rotation for years to come.

Unfortunately, Soroka's career so far has been a lesson that the game of baseball doesn't always give us what we want and isn't always fair.

Soroka's star burned bright with the Braves

At the start of the 2016 minor league season, Soroka wasn't getting a ton of attention at the national level. There were certainly some Braves diehards (including yours truly) who were very intrigued by him, but overall he wasn't on a lot of people's radars just yet.

However, that changed pretty quickly in 2016 as Soroka posted a 3.02 ERA with 125 strikeouts and 32 walks in 143 innings with the low-A Rome Braves that season. Folks were blown away not only by how efficiently he navigated games despite his age but also just how beyond his years he was with his mental preparedness and understanding of pitching. A certain amount of caution was exercised as prep arms have broken their fair share of hearts, but something special was certainly brewing.

The Braves clearly agreed as they jumped Soroka all the way to Double-A Mississippi for the 2017 season. Normally, a challenge that stiff for a 19-year-old would have some growing pains, but Soroka didn't just meet the challenge, he exceeded all expectations. When the dust settled, he had put up a 2.75 ERA in 153.2 innings with nearly identical strikeout and walk numbers that he put up in Rome. It was clear that Soroka was on the fast track now.

2018 saw Mike dominate the early portion of the season in Gwinnett before the Braves made the call to bring Soroka up to the majors. Soroka was good through his first five starts in the big leagues before a shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the season and this is when the trouble started.