Like so many arm injuries, the news around Mike Soroka’s shoulder issues has gone back and forth. The Braves highly touted prospect made five starts in the majors in 2018 before hitting the 15-Day DL in June. He never returned, as the organization opted to shut him down for the remainder of the season despite having serious discussions about him possibly returning in September and for the Braves playoff run.
The results of their actions appeared to pay off when manager Brian Snitker said there were “no restrictions” for Soroka as he entered spring training. He was a pretty clear favorite to win the fifth and final rotation spot, or at least contribute from the bullpen.
A week later, it was reported by multiple sources that Soroka was once again experiencing shoulder soreness.
This time, the problem stemmed from an overload in his offseason lifting program. Soroka told the team’s trainer, George Poulis, that he began experiencing the discomfort during a bullpen session last week.
If there is some light at the end of the tunnel; Soroka says the injury is “completely unrelated” to the problems he was dealing with last year. But that won’t stop the Braves from being extremely cautious with their 21-year old star prospect.
Per Mark Bowman, Soroka is expected to resume throwing on Thursday but will not be pitching in a game for a couple of weeks at the least. The Braves are hoping he will be able to participate towards the end of spring training.
Regardless, the discomfort will take him out of the running for the 5th and final spot in the rotation. The new favorites include Touki Touissant and the emerging Max Fried – who has recently received some high praise from Freddie Freeman (The Athletic subscription required to view).
“I think he’s one of the best pitching prospects I’ve seen in a long time,” Freeman said regarding Fried. “Left arms like that don’t come around very often.”
Fried pitched in 14 games for Atlanta last season, including five starts and recorded a 2.94 ERA with 11.8 K/9 innings. He also appeared in all four of the games in the NLDS, showing the confidence the team has in him going forward.
Other names that could occupy the final starting spot outside of Touissant and Fried are Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright.