After taking a California high-school left-hander with their first pick in Monday’s draft, the Braves used their second pick to take another 17-year-old high school pitcher, Canadian right-hander Mike Soroka.
They took Soroka with the No. 28 overall pick in the first round of the draft. The hard-throwing, 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is out of Bishop Carroll High in Calgary, Alberta, and former Braves relief pitcher Chris Reitsma was Soroka’s pitching coach on the Canadian junior national team.
Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said Soroka was dominant while pitching for the Canadian team in a couple of extended spring-training games against minor leaguers and prospects, which is where he caught the attention of Braves scouts. He also pitched in one spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We had somebody see that,” Bridges said. “He held his own, didn’t give up a hit until the second inning kind of unraveled on him. Seventeen years old.
“But he went through two extended programs. I was there the one day he pitched against ours. Bat-breaking fastball, (improving) breaking ball, changeup, throws strikes, heavy fastball. Sky’s the limit with this child. Six-foot-4, 200, guys who don’t throw the ball straight, kind of have a tendency to like those guys.”
California high school lefty Kolby Allard was the No. 14 pick, the first of five the Braves had in the top 75 selections on the opening night of the three-day draft. Allard, 17, missed most of his senior season with a stress fracture in his lower back.
“We were set up to take these high-end pitchers,” Bridges said. “This kid (Soroka) has a hockey background, his dad played hockey. Tough kid. And that’s kind of the way I want to go. You can never have enough pitching….
“He’s a young’un. I think he’s going to grow into his own. This is what (pitchers are supposed to) look like. This is a guy who has a high ceiling, chance to be No. 1 or 2 starter.”
Soroka, who verbally commited to the University of California-Berkley, hasn’t pitched as much as most American high school seniors.
“Less mileage on the arm,” Bridges said. “He’s been to showcases (summer all-star games for prospects) and that kind of circuit, but having a (former) professional (as a) pitching coach — Chris Reitsma took care of him.
“I saw him for the first time in Jupiter, and it was pretty easy, just the way he went about his business and the ease he threw in his delivery. There’s less stress on the body. This guy’s a mold of clay. You can’t be scared of northern arms. They come from all over, and the more we attack these type players, the better off we’ll be as an organization.”
Still to come Monday night for the Braves were the Nos. 41, 54 and 75 selections. The first two rounds and supplemental-round selections of the draft were to be completed Monday.
When the draft resumes Tuesday at 1 p.m. with the third round, the Braves’ first pick of the day will be at No. 89, their regular selection in the third round.
The Braves acquired the No. 28 pick of the draft as compensation for losing free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana after the 2014 season. They got the No. 41 pick from the Padres as part of the trade that sent closer Craig Kimbrel to San Diego the night before opening day, and acquired the No. 75 pick from the Diamondbacks, officially as part of the trade for minor leaguer Victor Reyes, though unofficially as part of the spring trade for Arizona pitcher Trevor Cahill.
The No. 54 pick was the Braves’ regular second-round pick based on order of finish in the 2014 standings.
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