Michael Soroka

From BR Bullpen

Michael John Graydon Soroka

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Michael Soroka was taken by the Atlanta Braves 28th overall in the 2015 amateur draft; the scout was Brett Evert. The 17-year-old pitched for the Danville Braves and GCL Braves his first year, going 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 games (9 starts), striking out 37 with 5 walks in 34 innings. He was a Baseball America Rookie All-Star. Going into 2016, he was the Braves #13 prospect per BA and he did not disappoint, going 9-9 with a 3.02 ERA in 143 innings for the Rome Braves, walking just 32 batters; he was a South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star.

He was named as part of the World team at the 2017 Futures Game. That year, he went 11-8, 2.75 for the Mississippi Braves of the Southern League. After impressing in spring training in 2018, he began the season in AAA with the Gwinnett Stripers where he went 2-0, 1.99 with 24 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings in April. On May 1st, the Braves announced that he was being called up to the big league team, where he would join two other budding young stars born in 1997, IF Ozzie Albies and OF Ronald Acuna, meaning that the three youngest players in the majors were now with the team. He made his debut that day with a strong start against the New York Mets, pitching 6 innings in a 3-2 win. He was the first starting pitcher 20 years old or younger to win his major league debut since Scott Kazmir in 2004. After three starts, he was placed on the disabled list on May 16th with tightness in the back of his shoulder. It was the first time he was on the DL as a pro, but the Braves were downplaying the seriousness of the injury, saying it was just a precautionary measure. Still, the stay on the DL became an extended one and in late August, the Braves announced that Soroka would not be back before the end of the season.

Soroka had a great first half in 2019, going 9-1, 2.42 in 15 starts and earning a nomination to play in the 2019 All-Star Game. He pitched a scoreless inning in the game, played at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH on July 9th. In his first start of the second half, he was matched up against fellow Canadian Cal Quantrill of the San Diego Padres. It was the first match-up of Canadian starting pitchers in the majors since 2013, when Ryan Dempster and Scott Diamond had gone head-to-head. Both pitchers were excellent, with Soroka pitching 7 scoreless innings and Quantrill 6. However, Soroka earned his 10th win of the year when 1B Freddie Freeman, who had played for Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, hit a three-run homer off Trey Wingenter in the top of the 8th. He finished the year with a record of 13-4, 2.68, with 142 strikeouts in 174 2/3 innings and finished 6th in the voting for the Cy Young Award. He also finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to record-setting Peter Alonso. In the postseason, he started Game 3 of the Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 6th and gave up just 1 run on 2 hits in 7 innings; the Braves won the game 3-1, but he was not involved in the decision in spite of his outstanding performance. After the season, on December 4th, he was named the winner of the Tip O'Neill Award as the best Canadian baseball player of the past year.

His 2020 season came to an abrupt end in just his third start. He was the Braves' Opening Day starter on July 24th, pitching 6 scoreless innings against the New York Mets and Jacob deGrom and ending up with a no-decision. After another good start against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 29th, he faced deGrom and the Mets again on August 3rd, but tore his Achilles tendon in the 3rd inning of a 7-2 loss, as he landed awkwardly and fell to the ground in pain. He was immediately taken out of the game, his season over. He then experienced setbacks in his rehabilitation, and his return, originally scheduled for April of 2021, was delayed. He still had not got into a game when he tore the tendon again on June 24th, just walking around the team's clubhouse. This wiped out any hope of his returning that year, as he required another surgery. He missed all of 2022 as well and finally made his return to a major league mound on May 29, 2023, starting for the Braves against the Oakland Athletics. Facing the worst team in the majors, he pitched 6 innings, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits, and was saddled with a 4-1 loss. He had been known as "Mike" before the injury, but by the time he returned asked to be called by his full first name, "Michael". His second start on June 4th against the Arizona Diamondbacks was another trying one, as he allowed 5 runs on 7 hits in 3 2/3 innings, although this time he ended up with a no-decision. The Braves sent him back to AAA after the game, in order to have him work out the kinks in a less pressure-filled environment. He returned on June 30th and in his first home start since the injury picked up the win as the Braves concluded a tremendous month by demolishing the Miami Marlins, 16-4. he allowed 3 runs in 6 innings. He spent most of the season at AAA Gwinnett, but after an early September start against the St. Louis Cardinals, he complained of numbness in his fingers and was returned to the injured list on September 6th. It was another significant injury and it ended his season. He was 4-4, 3.41 in AAA and 2-2, 6.40 with Atlanta.

On November 16, 2023, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox along with Riley Gowens, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake and Jared Shuster for reliever Aaron Bummer. He started the 2024 season in the starting rotation for the White Sox, but after his ninth start on May 12th, his record stood at 0-5, 6.39, with the Sox going 1-8 in the games he had started. That earned him a trip to the bullpen, at least in the short term.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Bowman: "Soroka on Achilles: 'No sense being angry'", mlb.com, August 23, 2021. [1]
  • Sonja Chen: "Soroka content with 6 innings, 3 K's in '2nd debut': Braves righty makes successful return to big league mound after 3 years, 2 Achilles tears", mlb.com, May 30, 2023. [2]
  • Janie Mccauley (Associated Press): "Braves pitcher Michael Soroka goes 6 innings, loses to A's in long-awaited return to mound", Yahoo! Sports, May 29, 2023. [3]
  • Paul Newberry (Associated Press): "Done for the year: Braves ace Soroka felled by torn Achilles", USA Today, August 4, 2020. [4]
  • Paul Newberry (The Associated Press): "Braves pitcher Michael Soroka placed on injured list in another potentially major setback", Yahoo! Sports, September 6, 2023. [5]

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