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Braves minor-league recap: Ryan Cusick brings the heat in professional debut

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The Atlanta Braves minor-league teams didn’t lose on Thursday night. Here’s a look back at the perfect evening.

2021 Major Leauge Baseball Draft Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Three games played and three wins for the Atlanta Braves farm teams. Rome was unfortunately washed out, but Gwinnett, Mississippi and Augusta all won. Fans of the Braves’ minors we’re treated to a dominating combined pitching performance, a confusing walk-off and an impressive debut from Atlanta’s first-round pick.

Here is how it went down on the Braves farm on Thursday, August 12.

(49-38) Gwinnett 3, (55-31) Durham Bulls 0

BOX SCORE

  • Drew Waters, RF: 0-for-4, 1 RBI, .253 BA, .730 OPS
  • Eddie Rosario, DH: 1-for-4, 1 RBI — on rehab assignment
  • Sean Newcomb, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, Save

It was an impressive pitching effort by the Stripers to shut down one of the best offenses in the division in a combined shutout. Jose Rodriguez started things off with 5.2 strong, striking out five and walking one. Jesse Biddle followed with 1.1 perfect innings, striking out two batters of his own. Chasen Bradford and Sean Newcomb each tossed a scoreless frame with Newcomb picking up his second save.

Drew Waters, William Contreras nor Cristian Pache recorded a hit on Thursday, though Waters did drive in one of the Stripers three runs. Instead, it was Yolmer Sanchez and his seventh home run of the year and an RBI from new Brave Eddie Rosario that led the way.

(51-36) Mississippi 5, (32-55) Biloxi Shuckers 4

BOX SCORE

  • Spencer Strider, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K
  • Trey Harris, RF: 1-for-3, 2 R

Spencer Strider was able to work around one bad inning in which he allowed the M-Braves to creep back in it. Back-to-back home runs by Jalen Miller and Hendrik Clementina in the fourth tied it all up and the M-Braves bullpen did the rest. Wendell Rijo played the hero with a two-run walk-off home run... or so we thought. Rijo, as it turns out, skipped touching first base on his game-winning home run trot. Luckily, CJ Alexander had already reached base and stole second, so the M-Braves eked out a 5-4 victory in walk-off fashion.

Strider came out strong in the first, flashing that 99-mph heat and the ever-improving change to strike out two, but was hit around in the second. He still got through five before Hayden Deal came on to pitch 2.2 perfect frames. Indigo Diaz and Brandon White closed it out, with White getting the win.

(47-38) Rome at (47-38) Hickory — PPD

It was Darius Vines Day, but the rains didn’t care. Rome and Hickory will try again Friday with a doubleheader scheduled for a 5 p.m. ET start. Vines and Coleman Huntley are the probable starters.

(37-50) Augusta 6, (28-61) Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 4

BOX SCORE

  • Ryan Cusick, SP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K
  • Cal Conley, 2B: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, .208 BA, .630 OPS
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 2-for-3, 1 R,.301 BA, .824 OPS

Well, Ryan Cusick showed why the Atlanta Braves invested a first-round pick in him. He was dealing Thursday, hitting the upper-90s with relative ease. He was less consistent with his off-speed stuff, but the Cannon Ballers simply couldn’t catch up to the fastball, which was clocked as high as 100. Overall, Cusick landed 33 of his 48 pitches for strikes, was overpoweringly fastball heavy and struck out seven in just three innings.

Cal Conley, another 2021 MLB draft pick, crushed his first pro home run to put Augusta up 1-0 in the first and drove in two more later to cushion the lead. Vaughn Grissom also had a pair of hits on the evening, scoring a run. Fellow 2021 MLB draft pick Christian Robinson also had a hit, drove in a run and scored a run in the victory.