Angels’ Jose Soriano Is Back On The Right Track

Jose Soriano is right where the Angels thought he would be when they signed him as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. The righthander was added to the 40-man roster in November and has an outside shot of making the team next spring.

Soriano’s path from a skinny teenager who signed for $70,000 to a physically imposing righthander was hardly a straight line.

Soriano, now 24, progressed nicely in his first four years in the system, gradually adding size and strength to his 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame and increasing his velocity and durability to the point where he looked dominant at Low-A in 2019. His fastball averaged 96 mph and touched 100 mph.

But Soriano had Tommy John surgery in February 2020. The Pirates thought so highly of Soriano that they selected him with the first pick of the 2020 Rule 5 draft while he was recovering.

Soriano pitched twice for High-A Bradenton in 2021 but re-injured his elbow and had a second season-ending surgery that June.

He was designated for assignment by the Pirates in November 2021. He cleared waivers and was returned to the Angels a week later, his rehabilitation progressing to the point where he was able to pitch in seven games in 2022 in August and September.

Soriano showed enough with his lively fastball and wipeout 85 mph curveball that the Angels did not want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

If Soriano continues to develop his hard-breaking 89 mph slider that he hasn’t thrown much in games, he could stick in the rotation. But his fastball/curveball combination could be a better fit in the bullpen.

“You’re protecting a big arm,” Angels minor league pitching coordinator Buddy Carlyle said. “With that kind of fastball and breaking ball and feel, people aren’t scared to move guys up through the system. If somebody is throwing strikes with that kind of stuff, (a callup) could be any time.

“Stuff plays in the big leagues. If you have stuff and can command it, you’re going to give yourself (a) pretty good chance.”

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