Mound Of Evidence For Soroka
By Clint Longenecker
JUPITER, Fla. — The 2015 draft class in Canada is a bountiful one, featuring prominent position player prospects such as outfielder Demi Orimoloye and first baseman Josh Naylor. The class also has talent on the mound, as righthander Mike Soroka showed, displaying many of the key indicators evaluators look for.
Soroka (Bishop Carroll HS, Calgary, Alberta) faced off against the EvoShield Canes, who have one of the most talented, prospect-laden and deepest lineups of any team at the WWBA World Championship, and showed starting pitcher qualities with competitiveness, pitchability and the ability to throw strikes and get swings and misses with three pitches. His fastball was 89-91, touching 92 in the first inning, which is up from where he was at the Area Code Games two months ago. His heater settled in at 87-89, touching 90 for the rest of his outing that went 2 1/3 innings.
But Soroka’s fastball plays up beyond its pure velocity, as TrackMan demonstrates. His fastball spin rate ranged from 2,300 to more than 2,500, which is well above-average and will likely be one of the top at the event. His fastball extension (between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-5) was at least average for the major leagues. Soroka’s heater had late riding life through the zone, as well as sink when he works to his arm side and gets on top of the ball. Soroka, who mostly relied on his four-seamer, has an easy delivery with minimal effort. He has a loose, quick arm and the ball comes out of his hand well. The Team Canada member has worked on staying on top of the ball from his three-quarters arm slot that occasionally dipped lower and caused him to get on the side of the ball, as well as land on his heel and spin off to the first base side.
“I have been working with Chris Reitsma, who is the pitching coach for Team Canada,” Soroka said. “We get to work on a bunch of stuff. I have been working on really extending to the plate and staying on top of the ball and driving the ball down as opposed to dipping and driving, which is what I used to do.”
The uncommitted Soroka has feel for a breaking ball with late three-quarters tilt and depth that showed the potential to be at least an average pitch, flashing significantly better. His breaking ball also grades out very well by TrackMan standards, as his breaking ball spin rate was up to at least 3,000, which is well above-average for the major league level and will, again, likely be one of the highest at this event.
He showed the ability to get swings and misses with a changeup that he has feel for and has at least average potential. His low-80s changeup showed better than at the Area Code Games, when it was in the mid-70s.
“Chris (Reitsma) used to do clinics up in Calgary when I was in little league and he was in the minors,” Soroka said. “He used to tell us that fastball-changeup is the most important combination. So I really tried to work with the changeup. When I was 12 I was playing up at the 14U level. Since I didn’t throw that hard because I was playing against older guys I had to learn how to pitch. That was when my secondary stuff started to develop.”
Soroka has a quiet and competitive demeanor on the mound and continued to compete even when the defense behind him made errors.
The 6-foot-4 Soroka has an athletic, lean and projectable build with a large frame, wide shoulders and significant room to fill out.
“The offseason is for getting bigger and stronger,” Soroka said. “In the last two years I have put on a lot of good weight. Going into high school, which is 10th grade up in Canada, I was about 6-foot-2 and between 140-145 pounds. Now I am about 6-foot-4, 195 pounds. By the spring time I think I could be a little bit taller because I think I still have a few more inches to go catch up to my dad, who is 6-foot-5. I would like to be around 210. I would like to fill out my frame a little more and with that comes velocity.”
The former hockey and basketball player is also extremely young for the draft class and won’t be 18 until two months after the draft.
Considering his youth, projectability and low-effort delivery, Soroka could be poised for a velocity increase come next spring when Team Canada begins play in March.
“My biggest room for improvement is to gain more velocity and more consistency with my delivery, staying on top a little more and consistently staying lower in the zone,” Soroka said.