Braves' prospects bond at development camp

Pitchers Wright, Allard, Soroka among participants at SunTrust Park

November 9th, 2017

ATLANTA -- A little more than four months after ending his career at Vanderbilt University and experiencing the thrill of being taken with the fifth overall selection in this year's MLB Draft, Kyle Wright joined some of the Braves' other top pitching prospects at SunTrust Park to participate in the Rookie Development Camp.

This 10-day event, which concluded Wednesday, introduced the prospects to various aspects ranging from media training to financial planning. The talented hurlers were also schooled in the areas of mental strength and physical conditioning. But maybe most importantly, they were simply given a chance to bond in an environment that they could soon inhabit within the next few years.

"We were together here for just about a week, but it feels like we've been together forever," Wright said. "It's a good group of guys, and this certainly helps you get a feel for what you're going to experience."

When the Braves were discussing who to select with their first pick this year, former general manager John Coppolella was lobbying for Keston Hiura, an outfielder from UC Irvine. Scouting director Brian Bridges favored Austin Beck, a raw, high-upside, high school hitter from North Carolina. The tension created by this disagreement became moot when both sides were thrilled to see Wright still available for the fifth overall selection.

Widely considered the best arm available in this year's Draft, Wright already ranks as's No. 30 prospect. The other four Braves pitchers who rank on the Top 100 Prospects list are Kolby Allard (No. 21), Mike Soroka (No. 33), Ian Anderson (No. 50) and Joey Wentz (No. 94).

The participants in this year's Rookie Development Camp included each of the five aforementioned pitchers, as well as Kyle Muller, Bryse Wilson, and Alan Rangel.

"You look around this room, and we obviously have a lot of very good arms," Allard said. "It ultimately pushes you to be a better pitcher."

Strengthening a bond they have shared since they were both taken within the first 28 selections of the 2015 MLB Draft, Allard and Soroka spent this past season routinely proving they were not adversely affected by the team's decision to have them both skip the Class A Advanced level. They fed off each other while pitching for Double-A Mississippi this year, and they could reach Atlanta at some point next summer.

Before accelerating his offseason preparations in California, Allard will fly to western Canada at the end of this month to visit Soroka, who has remained in regular contact with his mentor Chris Reitsma, a fellow Canadian, who served as a Braves reliever from 2004-06.

"Our winter this year is supposed to be back and forth," Soroka said. "If it's nice, it will be 40 or 50 degrees."