New Pitch Has Kolby Allard Knocking On The Door
The Braves eschewed risk and chose two high school pitchers in the first round of the 2015 draft. Fast-forward to 2018, and both began the season in the Triple-A Gwinnett rotation.
Righthander Mike Soroka, a 20-year-old from Calgary, required only a month in the International League before making his big league debut on May 1. Lefthander Kolby Allard, a 20-year-old from Southern California, was on the verge of joining him.
Allard limited IL hitters to a .238 average through his first six starts, while recording a 2.12 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 34 innings. That performance comes on the heels of a 2017 season in which the Braves had both pitchers skip high Class A and jump to Double-A Mississippi.
"What separates them from most guys is the poise they possess and their knowledge of how to get hitters out, which is so advanced for their age,” farm director Dave Trembley said.
Drafted 14th overall in 2015 out of San Clemente High, Allard battled a stress reaction in his back that led to minor surgery after throwing just six innings in his pro debut. He added 100 more innings in 2016—counting 12 shutout frames the South Atlantic League playoffs—before climbing to 150 last season.
The southpaw’s strengths center on working the lower half of the strike zone while masterfully mixing his low-90s fastball with his outstanding curveball. He also made impressive strides with his changeup at Mississippi, which has contributed mightily to his recent success.
"Kolby is a strike-thrower,” Trembley said. "What he is able to do with his fastball is give hitters different looks. He moves his fastball around by elevating it or keeping it down in the strike zone.
"But I think the key is: Kolby has come up with a changeup that is going to be a big part of his arsenal. We all know that he has a real good breaking ball, but his changeup is going to be the equalizer for him.”
Mike Soroka Rewards Braves For Defying Convention
The Braves don't believe that curtailing workloads for young pitchers is beneficial, and Soroka provided a point in their favor.
>> The Braves promoted third baseman Austin Riley from Mississippi to Gwinnett on May 7 after he hit .333/.394/.677 with 19 extra-base hits in 27 games in Double-A. The 2015 supplemental first-rounder needs to hone his overall defense before getting the call to Atlanta.
>> The Braves promoted righthander Bryse Wilson to Mississippi on May 5 after he went 2-0, 0.34 in five starts in the Florida State League. A 2016 fourth-rounder out of a North Carolina high school, Wilson has developed a devastating changeup that complements his low-90s fastball and hard slider.