Despite a healthy strikeout rate, 22-year-old righthander Matt Suschak has not had the type of results in pro ball that scouts had envisioned last spring. A Braves seventh-round pick from Toledo a year ago, he has run up a 6.34 ERA and 1.83 WHIP through 49 2/3 career innings, all in relief.
Now Suschak's shot at redemption must wait 50 games, while he serves a suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance in the eyes of the minor league drug program. He appeared in 12 games for low Class A Rome this season, going 2-0, 6.75 with a 16-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 20 innings.
Suschak sat at 92-95 mph while pitching out of the Toledo bullpen in 2010, and he backed it up with a hard breaking ball. But his pro struggles began instantly in pro ball when he walked 19 batters in 29 2/3 innings for Rookie-level Danville last summer. His career rates for strikeouts and walks per nine innings now register at 8.3 and 6.2, respectively.
Rome has played better of late, but the Braves' record (25-41) still marks them as one of the minors' worst teams. Making matters worse, Atlanta's top two pitching draft picks from ’10—fourth-rounder Dave Filak from Oneonta State (N.Y.) and seventh-rounder Suschak—have fared poorly in the South Atlantic League. The Braves sent Filak to extended spring training in early June, after he went 2-5, 7.54 with more walks (33) than strikeouts (32), and he figures to join Danville when the Appalachian League season begins.
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