There are a number of intriguing Braves storylines to follow this Spring Training.
The Braves will have an open competition at shortstop between Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia, with the hope the youngster can grab ahold of the starting job. Left field will also be an intriguing position battle, but none is more fierce than the final spot in the rotation between Ian Anderson, Kolby Allard, Bryce Elder, and Mike Soroka.
Anderson is primed for a bounce back campaign; Allard is considered a high-upside piece to the organization, and Elder impressed last season, posting a 3.17 ERA over 54 innings. Still, it’s Soroka that most are intrigued to see, especially after Alex Anthopoulos said he would be a ‘stud’ again, and MLB.com agrees that Mike Soroka is the most interesting guy at Braves camp:
Soroka looked like an ace in the making when he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the Cy Young voting in 2019 after going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts. But he tore his Achilles early in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, then again in June 2021. Now full-go for Spring Training, Soroka is expected to battle with his friend Ian Anderson for the Braves’ last rotation spot.
I believe Soroka could be in the conversation for Comeback Player of the Year. He posted a remarkable 2.68 ERA over 174.2 innings as a rookie, accruing 4.0 fWAR and earning Cy Young recognition.
The Braves expect him to be fully healthy, and AA has spoken at length about the person he is, his competitive drive, and the talent he possesses. I am cautiously optimistic because it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy, which is why he’s such an interesting player to watch this Braves’ Spring Training.
Unfortunately, he’s already being limited in camp. Even though it’s precautionary, the Braves are holding Soroka out to start Spring Training as he deals with hamstring tightness. It’s not an encouraging start.
Nobody knows what to expect. He didn’t look sharp during limited outings in AAA last season, but we’ve seen what he can be at his peak. There’s no reason to believe he can’t become a productive piece of the rotation again, provided he’s healthy.
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