Atlanta Braves Prospects: Jared Shuster Scouting Report
We continue our series focussing on the Atlanta Braves top prospects with 2020 first-round pick Jared Shuster who made huge strides in 2021.
A lot of people were confused when the Atlanta Braves took Jared Shuster in the first round of the 2020 draft out of Wake Forest.
A prospect that many ranked as a third-rounder, Atlanta played on the potential upside and grabbed him with the 25th overall pick.
Some of that is bonus pool money manipulation as they signed him for over $500,000 under slot value.
But a lot of it had to do with an impressive stint he had the summer before in the Cape Cod League where his velocity shot up, and a good Spring at Wake Forest before the season was shut down striking out 43 batters in 26.1 innings.
In his first professional year of pro ball he posted a 4.44 ERA in 73 innings with 90 strikeouts, a WHIP of 1.178, 2.5 BB/9, and 11.1 K/9.
Shuster spent most of the year in High-A but made three starts at Double-A to end the year.
The Pitch Mix
Fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider.
Although, in going back in watching his starts at Mississippi, I couldn’t really see a difference between the change-up and curveball. Part of that is because his change-up is so good — maybe the best in the farm system — and has a ton of drop on it at around 80 MPH.
The fastball is also an above-average offering, especially when he’s able to locate it up in the zone as he now throws more of a rising four-seam fastball at 92-94 MPH.
What I noticed in the two games I watched is that when he threw the fastball below the belt it got hit hard. Same for the change-up when it stayed in the middle of the zone — they both got hit really hard.
For me, the slider is going to determine whether or not he becomes a successful big league starter or not. And I saw some promise there with him getting a nice strikeout on one running away from a lefty and one running under the hands of a righty.
But that change-up is his money-maker and he will throw it often.
It’s hard to tell right now if he ever reaches the level of a number two starter, but I could easily see his ceiling being a number three, especially if that slider turns into an above-average offering.
There is also a chance, as a 6-foot-3 lefty, he turns into a reliever at some point if it doesn’t work out as a starter. But I definitely feel he has the ability and pitches to be a starting pitcher.
In terms of pitch mix, it’s very similar to Trevor Rogers but their respective deliveries are very different.
Wade Miley was one of the first names that came to mind as a lefty with a good change-up, and their deliveries are more similar with a shorter arm action. But Miley’s primary pitch is a cutter.
Steven Matz is also a decent comp in terms of the change-up, size, and arm action, but he throws a sinker as his primary.
Maybe combine all three of those and you get your comp for Shuster among current pitchers.
Projecting His Numbers
Again, Shuster is still a bit of a project so it’s hard to tell right now exactly what he’ll be at the big league level.
The Braves brought him along pretty slow in 2021 as he very rarely went longer than 4 innings in a start.
He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds but he looked small. If he grows into that frame a little bit I could see him not only throwing harder but being able to maintain that velocity deeper into games.
With all that in mind, right now, I project him as a 3.60-3.80 ERA pitcher with just over a strikeout an inning and a 3.5 BB/9.
When Does He Play for the Braves
He threw 100 innings in 2019 between Wake Forest and the Cape, that’s most he’s thrown in college or pro ball.
That’s why I think there is still a long way to go in his development as a starter for the Braves.
He’ll likely open the 2022 season back at Double-A Mississippi and will spend at least half the season there working on developing that slider.
If he gets that figured out I could see him ending the 2022 season in Triple, setting himself up to make his debut in late 2023.