How the Braves got here: The timely maturation of Soroka and Fried

Michael John Graydon Soroka was born Aug. 4, 1997 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Braves drafted Mike Soroka in the first round (28th) of the 2015 draft. In 61 minor league games (59 starts), Soroka has a 2.91 ERA and 287 strikeouts in 330 2/3 innings. A non-roster invitee, Soroka has struck out three batters in three innings. On Thursday, Soroka struck out Miguel Cabrera on a 95 mph fastball that impressed Cabrera.

-Part 4 of preview series. How the Braves got here. Before the season, even though the Braves were defending National League East champions, more attention was focused on the division rivals Nationals, Phillies and Mets. Yet, the Braves ran away with the division. In a five-part series, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines how the Braves repeated. Today: The maturation of Mike Soroka and Max Fried.

For the past two seasons, the Braves became National League East champs on the backs of superstar youngsters. Last year’s run featured Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies. This season’s title was aided by two starters.

Mike Soroka and Max Fried blossomed into pitchers who, if they stay healthy, will be foundations in the rotation for a long time. The Braves’ rebuild centered on pitching, despite the team’s potent offense, and hadn’t yielded any certainties entering the year.

It has them now. Soroka and Fried – along with staple Julio Teheran and June signing Dallas Keuchel – fronted the rotation for much of the season. They helped the Braves overcome the loss of Mike Foltynewicz, who was demoted to Triple-A before returning with a vengeance, and the departure of Anibal Sanchez, a critical piece of last season’s rotation who joined the Nationals in free agency.

Soroka earned an All-Star nod in his first full season. He put together the campaign despite recent injuries that limited him to five starts last season and ruined his spring training. Soroka always was a highly regarded prospect and potential ace; those are hopes one must see realized to believe, and that was the case with Soroka in 2019.

The Canadian righty ranked among the top three in ERA in the NL for most of the season. He isn’t overpowering, but he’s a smooth worker who time and again illustrated the ability to paint the corners. Finally healthy, the Braves can only expect Soroka to continue making strides after a breakout rookie season.

Fried, meanwhile, debuted in 2017 but bounced between the majors and Triple-A, the rotation and the bullpen in that time. The southpaw had a taste of the postseason last year, coming out of the bullpen, but hadn’t established himself as part of the team’s future. Thus 2019 was a pivotal season for his future with the franchise.

The 25-year-old responded with an excellent season that was better than his overall numbers. Fried seems beyond the blister issues that plagued his career, having one incident in July from which he recovered nicely. He’s clearly no longer a bullpen piece. Fried is one-fifth of the team’s rotation moving forward.

The Braves received over 330 innings from their budding duo. There are more arms in the pipeline, but at the absolute worst, the Braves know they’ve landed a pair of trustworthy arms in Soroka and Fried, both of whom probably hasn’t shown his best yet.

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