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Atlanta Braves select Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest with 24th pick in 2021 MLB Draft

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The Braves top pick in the 2021 MLB Draft is their second Wake Forest pitcher in the first round in the last two years.

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: AUG 04 East Coast Pro Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 24th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves have selected Ryan Cusick, a pitcher out of Wake Forest. Cusick is a 6’6, 225 pounder that hits and throws right handed. He was originally drafted out of high school in the 40th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Avon Old Farms HS in Avon, Connecticut. He joins former teammate Jared Shuster as the second Wake Forest pitcher drafted in the first round by the Braves in the last two years.

Rankings

Baseball America - 39

Perfect Game - 22

Pipeline - 26

Fangraphs - 20

ESPN - 31

The Athletic/Keith Law - 12

Talking Chop (Matt) - 103

Stats

2019 - 19 G/12 ST, 65.2 IP, 6.44 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 55 K, 29 BB

2020 - 4 G/4 ST, 22.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 43 K, 18 BB

2021 - 12 G/12 ST, 70.0 IP, 4.24 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 108 K, 32 BB

Scouting Report

Fastball - 70

Cusick has a big fastball that gets a true plus plus rating, sitting in the mid 90s and touching as high as 102 MPH in the past. The pitch has a ton of movement on it, which isn’t surprising considering the Wake Forest program is a pitching analytics heavy program.

Curve - 55

Cusick has a curve with potential and has gotten plenty of swings and misses. The issue is it just isn’t consistent enough to see it get a better grade than above average right now even if it does occasionally flash as a plus pitch.

Change- 45

The changeup is a pitch that requires some real projection on it to even be a fringe average pitch as it not only needs a bunch of refinement, but is also a pitch he has rarely used to this point in his career which is not surprising for a guy with this type of power arm.

Command- 45

Command is not Cusick’s strong suit as he projects to have fringe average command of his arsenal as well. He saw a tick up in his command and even still this is not a particular strength for him.

Future

Cusick has decent potential if everything was to break right for him, but with major questions about his command and his third pitch for a college pitcher it feels a lot more like a reliever profile than a starter profile.

Thoughts on Pick

This is a tough pick because Cusick’s profile screams reliever and not as a starter in some ways (particularly the command and the questions about the changeup) as does the higher rated and also still available Ty Madden’s. This pick could be a bit underslot, which at least could allow the Braves to make some type of move in the second round tomorrow.