Soroka sets club record as Braves' 3rd All-Star

At 21, right-hander becomes youngest Atlanta pitcher named to ASG

July 9th, 2019

NEW YORK -- will be joining , and manager Brian Snitker in Cleveland on July 9. Soroka was named to the National League All-Star team in his first full season in the Majors, after his 2018 season was cut short due to a right shoulder injury.

“It’s indescribable,” Soroka said of the honor. “Something that wasn’t on my mind for so long, really. The beginning of the season was just about getting back to the big leagues, being able to prove yourself to the team.

“Just to be able to go out there and compete, and be healthy, was all I really asked for out of myself, and to be doing what I have, it’s just unbelievable. And it’s thanks to a lot of guys who keep me level-headed here.”

Soroka will be 21 years, 339 days old on the day of the game. He’s the youngest Braves pitcher to be an All-Star, breaking a record held by John Smoltz, who was 22 years and 57 days old in 1989 when he pitched in the game.

You wouldn’t be able to guess Soroka’s age by talking to him -- or hearing how others describe him.

“He’s just so businesslike,” Snitker said. “Every game, he’s out to win that game, win that inning, win that at-bat. Kind of compartmentalizes things really, really well. Keeps things in really good perspective. He’s a really pleasant, really neat kid to be around.”

Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz had similar praise for the youngster.

“He understands himself very, very well. He’s very calm, his demeanor,” Kranitz said. “Nothing seems to rattle him when he’s out there. He has the ability to reach back and make a pitch, which a lot of times, guys have to grow into that, or they go into it overthrowing. But that’s not him. He has a good sense of feel of what’s going on out there.”

Need more evidence? Take it from Soroka himself. Asked if he might be seeking autographs from fellow All-Stars, he indicated that he doesn’t even plan to take a lot of pictures. He wants to live in the moment.

“I think, being able to just, relax, take it in, remember things with my eyes instead of a camera -- that’s going to be really important for me,” he said.

Asked about what it means to be the youngest All-Star pitcher for a franchise with a history of Hall of Fame-level pitching, Soroka noted that this isn’t the first time the "youngest" qualifier has been used with regard to him.

“Age has always been a question coming up. The youngest to do something. And [Acuna] and [Ozzie] Albies, same thing, they fall into that category,” Soroka said. “Understanding that [something] can be done, and to not put limitations on things just because you’re a little younger. To not use it as an excuse either. It’s easy to go out there and say, ‘Oh, you’re only 20 years old and you’re in the big leagues, and failure’s OK.’ It’s going to happen, but to be able to move on, I think we’ve done a really good job learning from each other. Having that distinction is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, what means the most to me is to be able to get out there and compete for the guys.”

Soroka joins fellow 21-year-old Acuna and Freeman as the Braves' representatives for the Midsummer Classic. They’re the first team to have two All-Stars under age 22 in the same season.

“It’s a credit to the organization that we have two of our homegrown kids that are doing so well,” Snitker said, likening it to how the Braves rebuilt their team in the 1990s.

The mere presence of Soroka and Acuna on the team at such a young age is notable.

“I have [the Braves] to thank for throwing us into the fire,” Soroka said. “A lot of organizations hold guys back, there’s a lot of friends that I know that are held out just because of their age, just because of the number next to their name. We have them to thank for being able to push us and challenge us, and that’s ultimately why we’re all here.”

Soroka is second in the Majors in ERA at 2.13, trailing only the Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu (1.83). There is still a long way to go, but the last qualified Braves pitcher to finish a season with an ERA of 2.13 or lower was Greg Maddux in 1995, at 1.63. Soroka was born on Aug. 4, 1997, just in case you were curious if he had any recollection of that Maddux season.

The 90th Midsummer Classic, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Acuna and Freeman were both elected as All-Star starters for the NL squad in the inaugural Starters Election. With Soroka joining them, the Braves' manager knows this is the shape of things to come in Atlanta.

“It’s just the beginning,” Snitker said. “This is going to be a yearly occurrence, because these kids are going to be around for a long time. There are going to be a bunch of All-Star invites going around this clubhouse before it’s all said and done.”