Anthopoulos: Which Braves' pitching prospect is next, what role will they fill?

Knox Bardeen
May 07, 2018 - 12:20 pm
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kolby Allard

© Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos joined The Morning Show with John Fricke & Hugh Douglas Monday. Among the topics of discussion were young pitchers and Anthopoulos' strategy on introducing them to Major League Baseball.

Sean Newcomb, 24, made his Major League debut on June 10 last season and has since made a total of 25 starts with a 4.08 ERA. Mike Soroka, 20, is two starts into his big-league career after dazzling iin his debut with a six-hit, one-run win over the New York Mets. Who's coming up next for the Braves, who have a plethora of young arms in a fully stocked farm system?

"We've got Luiz Gohara who was great for us last year in September," said Anthopoulos. "We're trying to get him going. His stuff from the left side is great. We could have him coming out of the bullpen. Guys like Kolby Allard, he's getting ready and he's close too. He's certainly a phone call away from being a call-up."

Gohara, 21, currently pitches in Triple-A Gwinnett. He made five starts for Atlanta last season and struck out 31 batters in 29 1/3 innings. Allard, 20 and also in Gwinnett this season, currently sits with a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in five starts. He's only allowed 22 hits in his 28 innings of work. 

As important as who might be the next pitching prospect to get promoted, is what role they'll fill upon arrival. Anthopoulos has an idea on how he wants to proceed.

"The fact that these guys are all young, from a contractual standpoint they have options," said Anthopoulos. "We can send them up and down from the minors without having to put them through waivers. It's really a meritocracy in that way. You can go with the hot hand; if you're performing you're gonna stay in there, if you're not, you go back down. 

"Years ago, 20 years ago, a lot of teams liked to break guys in out of the bullpen. I personally like doing it as well. Soroka did a great jon in New York, but I've seen it where a lot of young kids come up in their first year and start: the hype, the expectations, waiting in between days, that first big-league start. It tends to not always go that well. You break them out of the bullpen and they can come in in a blowout type game, get all the ‘firsts’ out of the way. Beyond that, it’s getting the mentality coming in there and learning to attack and getting acclimated to the big leagues."

To prove his point, Anthopoulos mentioned Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sanchez made 54 relief appearances between 2014 and 2015 before his All-Star 2016 season where he made 30 starts and went 15-2. Stroman worked out of the bullpen in his rookie season of 2014 and finished eighth in AL Cy Young voting in 2017.