Ryan Cusick Looks The Part Of A First-Rounder

Just a few starts into his professional career, Ryan Cusick was showing why he was a first-round pick out of Wake Forest in July.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pound righthander struck out 15 while walking three across his first eight innings over three starts for Low-A Augusta. His fastball touched triple digits.

The Braves hope their next era of arms can prove as fruitful as the previous crop, which yielded Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa and Touki Toussaint in the past four seasons.

Cusick and lefthander Jared Shuster, both drafted in the first round out of Wake Forest the past two years, headline the upcoming group.

“You have to fish where the fish are,” Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown said.

Cusick’s went just 3-5, 4.24 in 12 starts as a junior this spring, but his physical build and gaudy strikeout numbers—108 in 70 innings—made him coveted. His ascension will depend on the development of his third pitch.

Cusick possesses an effective fastball/curveball combo and the 21-year-old was working on a changeup and slider. He began developing his changeup during quarantine last year. It’s since come “a long way,” according to Cusick.

Following the draft, Brown acknowledged the changeup was a work in progress but felt the pitch would make massive strides under professional guidance.

“I think the third pitch is going to be huge for me,” Cusick said. “I had six weeks between (the end of Wake Forest’s season) and the draft to work on the changeup and also the slider, which is more of a hard cutter/slider.”

How his repertoire develops, and if Cusick continues demonstrating the command he’s shown to begin his career, will determine his long-term future as a starter and what he can achieve at his peak.


— High-A Rome lefthander Jared Shuster owned a 73-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 15 games. The Braves have been encouraged by his progress. Shuster, whose signature pitch is his changeup, went a career best six innings on Aug. 21.

— The Braves promoted righthander Bryce Elder to Triple-A Gwinnett in August. Elder, a 2020 fifth-rounder out of Texas, has pitched at three levels this season. He had a 2.94 ERA with a 115-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 18 starts across High-A Rome and Double-A Mississippi before his latest promotion.

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