With the minor league season starting up next week, the Talking Chop minor league staff got together to do a series of predictions articles regarding what we think will happen in the 2018 season. Yes, we will likely be wrong a bunch, but half the fun of covering prospects is to see who succeeds and doesn’t and why.
Today we’re gonna look on the pitching side of things to see who we think will excel this season on the mound. The Braves rebuild has been prided on pitching and pitching depth and this season will give us four strong rotations that could all produce major league talent and stellar seasons. I wonder who Eric picked.
Aaron: Freddy Tarnok. The easy answer is to take someone at Rome, so I’m going to do just that, and say that he’ll have a similar year to Bryce Wilson/Joey Wentz from 2017.
Eric: Mike Soroka. I will keep driving this train until he runs out of prospect eligibility and he is pried from my cold, dead hands. All the guy does is improve both in terms of his polish, conditioning, and pure stuff every single year in the minors and he is just 20 years old. I expect him maintain his stellar walk rate and ability to limit home runs and I also expect, due to his velocity appearing to tick up and his devotion to improving his changeup, for his strikeout numbers to improve as well. Add all that up and you have the best pitching prospect in the system before the Braves wise-up and put him in the rotation. Kyle Wright and Luiz Gohara seem like reasonable picks as well, but it is a pretty clear choice for me.
Garrett: Kyle Wright. Wright is the best pitching prospect in the system at the moment, and with a pretty deep crop of pitcher who could get time above him Wright may spend more time in the minor leagues than you think. There is no reason to rush him, and given his arsenal he should make quick work of Double-A hitters early in the season. Triple-A shouldn’t be much more of a problem for him and he will further solidify his status as the best pitching prospect in the system. A close second for me is Tucker Davidson-watch out for him this season.
Gaurav: Kyle Wright. I love his build, his potential, his arsenal. He should be an innings hog, and throws five potential plus pitches - fastball, curve, slider, cutter, change-up. He’s got great lateral movement on a fastball that reaches up to 97 and a super tight spinning slider that can leave your knees buckling. If he can find his consistency with his command on some of his offspeed stuff you could see him in Atlanta as soon as the second half of the season.
Matt: This is another tough one for me with two choices. It’s clear that Mike Soroka is going to be a very good big league pitcher. No one can deny that because despite the fact he doesn’t have true ace stuff, he does have a little bit of everything. Soroka combines good but not elite stuff with command, pitchability, and the competitive edge to be great. I really want to say he’s the best, but then you have Kyle Wright with high level upside himself. Wright does have the elite level stuff and like Soroka checks all of the boxes for a high end starter with his stuff and pitchability as well as control that’s typically solid. Unlike my tie for the best hitter, I’m comfortable picking a best pitcher with Soroka getting the edge after seeing him face and conquer every challenge the team has put in front of him. I don’t want to ding Wright as he hasn’t had the chance to face the challenges which Soroka has, but the way Soroka has responded can’t be ignored.