In his weekly "On-Deck Circle" exclusively at BGFS, Matthew Selz gives you the skinny on prime MLB Pitching Prospects that could be at the show soon. Follow him on Twitter @theselzman
The Braves system is LOADED with young pitchers and Soroka is possibly the closest one to the big leagues, aside from Gohara who came up last year. He was drafted in the first round of the 2015 June Amateur Draft out of a high school in Canada and since then has flown through the system. Just 20 years old, he’s already made it to Triple-A Gwinnett after a full season at Double-A Mississippi in 2017. His three-pitch mix, of a 60-grade fastball that works 92-95 with heavy sink, a 55-grade Slider that can work as an upper-80s power slide piece or a mid-80s curve, and a 55-grade Changeup that he mixes in with good feel, all miss bats at a nice clip. At Double-A a season ago, Soroka started 26 games going 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA (3.19 FIP), 1.09 WHIP, and 125 Ks in 153.2 innings. His start at Triple-A this season has been nice over three games, though that’s a little early to say how it will pan out. The young righty could be up later this year if he dominates Triple-A and the Braves need starter help. Otherwise he is a September candidate or bullpen relief this year.
Reyes is not a new name in prospect circles as he’s been a top prospect now for a couple of years, and even getting up to as high as sixth in baseball, before his elbow injury. The Cardinals still haven’t fully decided what they are going to do with him this year, but right now it appears that he will be stretched out to a starter. The emergence of Jordan Hicks and the signing of Greg Holland have likely solidified the bullpen to the point where Reyes would be more beneficial getting work in the rotation. The latest reports are that he will begin working in Triple-A in mid-May and will need several starts to build up his arm once again. With that time-table, St. Louis could have him back in late-June. His talent and stats speak for themselves so if he’s still available in your league and you can stash him for a couple of months, go for it.
Remember how I said the Braves farm system is LOADED like two paragraphs ago? Of course you do. Well here’s another guy in their system that could make the jump to the majors this season. The southpaw uses a three-pitch mix of a fastball (88-93 mph), a curve that works as a plus offering and his changeup that has now become a plus pitch as well. Movement and command to both sides of the plate allow the fastball to play up and still miss bats even at a lower velocity than others possess. Over his 2017 season at Double-A Mississippi, he started 27 games for 150 innings posting a 3.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8-11 record, with 129 Ks (7.74 K/9). He walks a few too many guys for my liking at this point with a BB/9 rate of 2.70 last year and 3.68 to start this season, over just 14.2 innings. Allard relies on his fastball a bit too much at times and doesn’t mix in the curve nearly enough as he should which would bring up his full-season GB% from 41.6 to closer to 50%.
The Twins’ young hitter prospects have gotten notoriety in the last few years with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Max Kepler, among others, starting to blossom. Meanwhile the pitching side has been largely untapped except for Jose Berrios. Well that could change quickly with Romero working towards the majors at Triple-A Rochester. He missed nearly the entirety of 2014 and 2015 with TJ surgery and recovery, pitching just 12 innings total between the two. In 2016 he was slowly progressed to keep him healthy but then came 2017 and the gloves came off. He threw 125.1 innings over 24 appearances (23 starts) and posted an 11-9 record, 3.53 ERA (2.93 FIP), 1.35 WHIP, 120 strikeouts and 45 walks. His fastball is his best offering at a 70-grade with velo in the mid- to upper-90s with movement, a slider that is breaking more as he gets further removed from the surgery, and a change that works well against left-handed batters. He simply needs more durability and strength to be built up at this point and then he can mature into the frontline starter the Twins still need behind Berrios.