It was already going to be a heated battle for the fifth rotation spot in Atlanta. Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Sean Newcomb, and Julio Teheran appeared to be locked into the first four spots in the rotation heading into spring. However, with questions surrounding Folty’s elbow (never promising) and Gausman’s shoulder, things could heat up real fast for these Braves’ pitching prospects.
Some among this group are experiencing ailments of their own. Mike Soroka was shut down from throwing due to his shoulder again but resumed throwing on Thursday with no discomfort. Although, he will not be in the conversation for a rotation spot to begin the season, as the Braves will remain cautious with their star prospect after he was shut down for the majority of last year with a similar issue. Luiz Gohara also has shoulder concerns that have arisen again.
The list of arms competing for a rotation spot or even a bullpen spot is Soroka, Gohara, Max Fried, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Muller, and Kolby Allard. Ian Anderson and Joey Wentz are not too far behind.
The frontrunners as of now appear to be Fried, Toussaint, and Wright.
Fried was used heavily in the series against the Dodgers, pitching all four contests. This could be indicative of how high the team is on him and what that could mean for him heading into 2019. However, they may see value in using him in a multi-inning role out of the bullpen.
Freddie Freeman called Fried “one of the best pitching prospects he has ever seen.”
Toussaint may have flashed the most potential, as he was terrific after receiving the call, and is a personal favorite of mine to land the 5th and final rotation spot.
Wright and Soroka both made their major league debuts last season. For Wright, it was a late call-up resulting in a tiny sample size. Soroka received the call in May but was shut down shortly after due to shoulder inflammation.
All four of these guys have top 100 prospect talent and could be duking it out for multiple spots in the rotation if Gausman and Foltynewicz end up on the shelf. The Wild Card could be the team going after Dallas Keuchel, but with the plethora of young arms the Braves have, it would take a severe injury to one of the four locks on the staff for the team to start considering paying the high price tag. If the rotation is healthy, the Braves may use a six-man rotation to ease up the logjam that exists in the upper levels of the system.
Regardless of the situation, these young guys will be battling it out for the fifth spot, and it will be interesting to see who wins the job. There is a good chance whoever performs the best will get penciled in before Opening Day.