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Getting to know the newest Detroit Tigers starting pitcher, Gregory Soto

Lakeland Flying Tigers v Daytona Tortugas. Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Lakeland, Fla. June 2, 2018. (Photo by Tom Hagerty.)

The Detroit Tigers have a Doubleheader on Saturday, May 11, which allows them to add a twenty-sixth man to the roster. That man will be pitcher Gregory Soto.

Who?

Gregory Soto is the team’s 26th ranked prospect. Soto was signed in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic, and he took five years to reach full-season ball. However, since 2017 Soto has been on the rise, making it to Double-A ball before receiving the call to the majors.

At Double-A Erie this season (since the call-up from Lakeland) he owns a 2.03 ERA in 13 1/3 innings — striking out 12 while holding opponents to a .204 batting average. This will be only the fourth start above A ball for Soto.

Soto had a very good near in 2017. He went 10-1 at West Michigan, posting a 2.25 ERA and striking out 116 in only 96 innings.

His struggles in higher A-ball stems from the fact that Soto has trouble controlling his electric arm. He is a powerful left-hander who can dial up his fastball to the high 90s and shows plenty of movement. His curveball can also be a plus pitch with great movement and easy strikeout potential.

So why has it taken him so long to rise in the ranks? Soto has struggled with his command throughout his career. Even in his most successful season, 2017, he walked 84 batters in 141 1/3 innings. That’s a 5.3 BB/9 rate. That’s disturbing.

Soto also lacks a consistent changeup, opting for a fastball/curveball mix. When his curveball is not working that essentially turns him into a one-pitch pitcher. That’s not going to get the job done in the major leagues.

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What this means

This shows the Tigers aren’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to bringing up a young arm to help this season. Yes, it’s not Casey Mize who is the prized prospect, but it’s a start. Soto probably won’t stay in the rotation long-term, but this will help give him a boost that he needs.

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