Dan's Dugout: Soroka Seeks to Follow Smoltz Footsteps • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Soroka Seeks to Follow Smoltz Footsteps


FLUSHING, NY – Nearly 30 years have passed since a young righthanded fireballer made a successful major-league debut against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

At age 20, Mike Soroka made his major-league debut Tuesday night

Hoping history will repeat, the Atlanta Braves made Mike Soroka their surprise starter against Cy Young Award candidate Noah Syndergaard Tuesday night at CitiField.

Though not yet old enough to vote, Soroka showed immediate signs of duplicating the stunning July 23, 1988 debut of John Smoltz.

Given a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Soroka retired the first two Mets on easy grounders, yielded consecutive singles to Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce, then ended the inning on another groundout. An inning later, he made Adrian Gonzalez his first strikeout victim and ended the second by whiffing Tomas Nido.

Before advancing to the majors, the 6’5″ rookie was rated the third-best prospect in the pitching-rich Atlanta farm system.

At Triple-A Gwinnett this year, he crafted a 2-0 record and 1.99 earned run average in four starts, his most recent a complete-game shutout at Rochester. When the International League season started, he became the youngest starter in the 10-year history of the Gwinnett franchise.

A Southern League All-Star last season, Soroka went 11-8 with a 2.75 earned run average for Double-A Mississippi. Not bad for a teenager who signed after the Braves made him the 28th overall pick in the 2015 first-year player draft.

Mike Soroka mystified the Mets in his major-league bow

He’s the youngest pitcher to start for anyone since 19-year-old Julio Urias in 2016 but the youngest to start for the Braves since Julio Teheran in 2011. Teheran, now his teammate, is scheduled to face the Mets in an afternoon game Thursday.

Soroka is the eighth pitcher to make his big-league bow for the Braves against the Mets. The previous seven posted a combined 4-2 record and 2.01 ERA.

The Braves think so highly of Soroka that they inserted him into their rotation so that he would have his natural rest between starts. Sean Newcomb, the kid lefthander originally scheduled for Monday night, and Teheran, the ace of the staff, were pushed back a day to make room.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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