The Royals picked Joakim Soria in the Rule 5 draft from the Padres. Two days later he pitched a perfect game in the Mexican League. Soria has a starting pitcher’s repertoire and is one of the few closers to throw four pitches. He will not blow you away with his fastball, but Soria has very good command and he puts batters away with his curve.
FanGraphs shows Soria throwing his curve just under 10 percent of the time. ESPN shows Soria throwing his hook 25 percent of the time when he gets to two strikes on a batter. Overall, opponents hit just .048 against Soria’s deuce.
Soria had nearly a 3.5:1 SO/BB ratio last year. He also did a fine job of keeping the ball in the park, as he allowed only five home runs in 67.1 innings. Batters swung at just 61.7 percent of pitches by Soria in the strike zone, a figure that ranked 19th among all relievers last year. Additionally, he induced swings on balls outside the zone 27.4 percent of the time.
But, much like Mariano Rivera, there are warning signs around Soria, too. He had a microscopic .215 BABIP last year. He also had an 89.5 percent strand rate. Not surprisingly, Soria’s FIP was 3.25 or more than twice his regular ERA. None of these should be dismissed lightly.
Still, on the plus side of the ledger we have Soria’s age (he’ll turn 25 in May), command, repertoire, ability to keep the ball in the park and lack of platoon split. In his brief career, lefties have a .167/.242/.255 line against Soria. So if you want a relief pitcher in the first 10 rounds, the Royals closer is a relative bargain with an ADP of 97.