- June 1, 2018: Mike Foltynewicz hasn't yet had the extended success necessary to earn being called a frontline starter. But after dominating the Nationals in his first career shutout in the Braves' 4-0 win at SunTrust Park, Foltynewicz has offered more proof that he is at his best when facing the best. Foltynewicz's stuff was electric in the best start of his young career, as he retired 26 of the final 28 batters and allowed just two hits and a walk. He recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and was hitting 99 mph with his fastball in the ninth. He became the seventh pitcher in Atlanta history (since 1966) to throw a two-hitter or better and record double-digit strikeouts. The most recent had been Greg Maddux against the Brewers on May 2, 2001.
|Home:||N/A||Team:||BRAVES - DL|
|DOB:||10/7/1991||Agent:||Excel Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Minooka, IL|
|Draft:||Astros #1 - 2010 out of high school (IL)|
In 2010, his senior year at Minooka Community High School in Illinois, Foltynewicz committed to the University of Texas, with coach Augie Garrido. But in June, the Astros chose Foltynewicz with their first round pick, and he signed with them.
Mike has tremendously supportive parents who threw batting practice to him from the time he was young.
Before 2011 spring training, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Mike as the 4th-best prospect in the Astros' farm system. They had Foltynewicz at #9 in the spring of 2012. They moved him up to #5 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened, and back up to #4 in the spring of 2014. He was at third-best in the Astros organization in the spring of 2015.
But within weeks, Mike was dealt to the Braves, where he was then their second-best prospect in 2015.
In 2012, the Astros named Foltynewicz their Minor League Pitcher of the Year after he spent the entire season in Lexington and went 14-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 27 starts. He was also Most Outstanding Pitcher in the South Atlantic League for 2012 after leading the loop in wins (14) and ranking 4th in ERA (3.14).
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has been a fan for a long time back to Foltynewicz’s high school days in rural Illinois and Luhnow’s tenure running the nearby Cardinals’ amateur scouting department.
May 12, 2017: Mike hasn't quite reached that point in his career where he is immune to growing pains. But during the early portion of the 2017 season, the Braves' hurler has shown he has matured to the point where he can better deal with adversity and follow a bad start with a gem, similar to the one he constructed during the night's 8-4 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park.
"I think it's gotten to the point where he can make some adjustments inning-to-inning," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He's definitely understanding himself a lot more. You've got to have some failure to learn and cement some things that are important and get rid of things that aren't helping you."
The 25-year-old hurler showed better arm strength, got ahead of hitters more consistently and remained composed as he limited the Marlins to just one run over six innings.
"We needed somebody to take us for a ride, and he did," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He asked me before the game what I expected, and that's what I expected. I thought he'd bounce back, and he did. It might be his best game yet."
Foltynewicz wasn't necessarily as authoritatively dominant as he'd been during the 10-strikeout outing in 2016 against the White Sox or the strong seven-inning start he had in Philadelphia. But he was consistently good over the course of this outing, which could have turned in the wrong direction when he momentarily got out of whack and began ending his delivery off-balance in the third inning.
"After I got out of that second and third inning, I knew I just needed those two runs and I'd get out of there all right," Foltynewicz said. "We did that. The ball was coming out good. It was warmer here than anywhere we've played. I got loose in like five minutes. I think the ball was coming out a little better." "It's all steps in a positive direction for him," Snitker said. "This will be a good game for him to build on for the future. It should boost his confidence." (M Bowman - MLB.com - May 13, 2017)
Feb. 10, 2018: Foltynewicz's wife Brittany gave birth to their son, Michael Jett Foltynewicz.
June 2010: The Astros chose Foltynewicz with their first round pick, the 19th player chosen overall, out of Minooka Community High School in Minooka, Illinois. And Mike signed, via scout Troy Hoerner, for a bonus of $1.3 million.
- January 14, 2015: The Braves sent Evan Gattis to the Astros; acquiring Foltynewicz, 3B Rio Ruiz, and RHP Andrew Thurman.
Foltynewicz has an explosive 93-100 mph FASTBALL with good sink that gets him a lot of groundballs
Mike has a 75-79 mph slurvy-CURVEBALL (some call it a slider) that flashes a plus "60" (that Astros pitching coach Brent Strom taught him in the spring of 2014) that has good movement and depth, missing bats. And he has feel for a good CHANGEUP that also has good sink and most scouts give it plus grades (55 on the 20-80 scale), but he did not use it much in 2014 and '15. He started slowing his arm speed to throw it, so the hitter knows it is coming.
He doesn’t locate his fastball with precision, because he doesn't repeat his delivery, so even when he’s sitting 96-98 mph, it flattens out when he leaves it up, making it a hittable pitch. When he locates down in the zone, it’s a wipeout pitch with good sink. His slurve is an alternative to change the eye level and balance of the hitter.
Foltynewicz is still feeling for the "put away" pitch to finish off a hitter. Once his secondary pitches are more refined and he can totally control that wicked fastball, he will likely realize more consistent success. That one dominant pitch remains a bit elusive.
Mike's huge frame should allow him to eat innings. Stamina and good mechanics should also help him pitch himself out of trouble.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 38.2% of the time; Sinker 24.2% of the time; Change 8.1%; Slider 19%; and Curve 10.5% of the time.
2017 Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 33.7% of the time; Sinker 27% of the time; Change 5.7%; Slider 21.2%; and Curve 12.3% of the time.
His delivery is easy for him to repeat. It is clean, with a good arm action. But his command issues could eventually send him to the bullpen, if he doesn't gain better command/control.
In 2014, Foltynewicz came to a new realization.
"I started using off-speed a lot more the last four or five games," Michael said in 2014. "I'm realizing I can't blow the ball by everyone. So I'm just using all my pitches right now and trying to eat up as many innings as I can for the bullpen."Armed with a fastball that can crack triple digits, Foltynewicz said he has learned when to go full-bore and when to pull it back a bit.
"If I pump it down a little bit, down to 93 or 95, I get a more strikes than just letting it go," he said. "But I've been learning how to pitch this year instead of throwing. Last year they sat me down and had that talk. I have that upper-90s fastball in my back pocket if I ever need it. So I'm just going out there and trying to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters."
And there was one other area of improvement in 2014: Stadium announcers are finally learning how to pronounce his last name.
"It's been pretty good the last couple of starts," he said with a laugh. "Round Rock kind of butchered it up a little bit. But other than that, people are starting to say it right. It's cool, but it's funny when teams have trouble saying it."
He is a big, physical righthander. And he pitches with a little swagger. He should be an innings-eater. He has good composure and great mound presence.
Given that his "heart was in [his] stomach" from the nerves, the much-touted prospect was just thankful it came during warmups prior to the eighth inning.
"I have no idea what happened," Foltynewicz said. "It went about 40 feet. I was definitely very nervous."
The hard-throwing righthander made his first big league appearance in an 8-2 win over the Blue Jays, recording two outs in the eighth with a 4-2 lead before walking a third batter. The nerves didn't show once the hitters reached the box, as Foltynewicz induced a harmless popup in foul territory and recorded a strikeout.
According to the rookie, he was just reaching peak velocity (100 mph) when he was yanked after a full-count walk.
Looking on from the stands as the youngster received a standing ovation on the way to the dugout were Foltynewicz's parents, who were stranded at an airport and missed his first day as a Major Leaguer after his promotion. They were there for this one, and Foltynewicz felt it.
"It was really cool they made it," he said. "Really special, because they've been through everything for me. To have this moment finally come, it's one of the top moments in my life." (Chris Abshire - MLB.com - 8/2/2014)
Foltynewicz's future: “He might be a Garrett Richards type when he figures it out,” the scout said. “He comes out of his delivery a lot, but it takes time for hard-throwers to mature and trust their stuff. He could be a frontline, top-of-the-rotation guy, but it might not be in 2015, or even in 2016."
May 1, 2015: Experiencing his first Major League start did not feel nearly as foreign to Mike as stepping into the batter's box. But he handled both challenges in a successful manner and gave the Braves more reason to be excited about the possibility that he will be a part of their starting rotation for many years to come.
Foltynewicz earned his first career victory and notched his first career hit while experiencing his much-anticipated Braves debut during the win over the Reds at Turner Field. The hard-throwing righthander navigated his way through trouble over five innings and delivered the evening's biggest surprise when he drilled a two-out, two-run double off Anthony DeSclafini.
"It was awesome," said Foltynewicz, who is ranked as the Braves third-best prospect by MLB.com. "I didn't even feel anything. It was something that was really cool to do." (M Bowman - MLB.com - May 2, 2015)
- Mike is learning to hold runners on. And his defense also can improve. (Spring 2013)
- August 29-September 15, 2015: Foltyniewicz was on the D.L. with costochondritis, which is severe inflammation in the chest.
September 20, 2015: Mike was hospitalized because of blood clots in his right arm.
Foltynewicz felt some discomfort and was rushed to the emergency room when he arrived at Turner Field on September 18 with redness and swelling around his right arm. Foltynewicz was looking forward to the chance to end his rookie season in promising fashion. Instead, he endured a sedentary September, which became downright frightening when he was diagnosed with the potentially fatal blood clot, which likely will limit him through the early portion of the upcoming season.
"It was a life-threatening injury, it really was," Foltynewicz said. "So it was kind of scary to go through. But we got it taken care of and I've just put it behind me. (Mark Bowman - MLB.com. - Feb. 2016)
March 25, 2016: Folty was on the D.L. while recovering from his September 2015 rib surgery.
- June 4-30, 2016: Mike was on the DL with a sore right elbow. The discomfort was caused by a bone spur.
- June 14, 2018: Folty was on the DL with right triceps tendonitis.