by Kevin McAlpin
ORLANDO – It wasn’t long ago that Mike Foltynewicz was one of the young guys, trying to make a name for himself in Braves camp. It started with trying to explain to all his teammates how to pronounce his last name. But, a lot has
changed for Folty since over the last five seasons since his first camp in 2015. A father for the first time last January, Foltynewicz blossomed into an All-Star in 2018 and is, by all indications, going to be the Opening Day starter for the Braves in Philly on March 28th.
So, what’s next for the 27 year old righty? Brian Snitker said on Wednesday he’d love to see Folty become more of a leader among the starting staff. He’s not far removed from being in the same shoes as guys like Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Luiz Gohara, Max Fried and Mike Soroka, among others, who are all competing for likely one spot in the rotation and another in the pen. For what it’s worth on February 20th (probably not much), I’d think Soroka and Fried could be the leaders in the clubhouse for those last spots at this point. But then again, there’s still a little over five weeks left until the games really matter.
Folty has always had the stuff. The last few years, it was clearing the mental hurdles of the game that challenged him at times. But, after a strong 2018 season, even more will be asked of and expected from him, and rightfully so. One thing that’s stood out over the last couple seasons is Foltynewicz’s ability to turn the page quicker. In 2017, if a break didn’t go his way, it’d tend to spill over into the next couple batters. But as Tyler Flowers pointed out, in 2018, Folty was able to put those issues behind him in the matter of a pitch or two. After establishing himself as a top of the rotation starter in 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to take strides as one of the top arms in the National League over the next seven months.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet