The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021, in Atlanta, Ga. We take a look at Ryan Cusick, the 24th ranked prospect by MLB.com, and their tenth-ranked pitcher in this year’s draft.
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Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest
Weight: 235 lbs
Yearly Stats: 2019: 7-3, 6.44 ERA, 55 SO, 1.736 WHIP
2020: 0-2, 3.22 ERA, 43 SO, 1.836 WHIP
2021: 2-4, 4.14 ERA, 94 SO, 1.347 WHIP
Cusick comes into this draft in the top ten ranked pitchers in what is sure to be a deep pitching class. During his time in high school, the sophomore year was also very strong for Cusick, posting a 1.48 ERA with 55 SO and allowing only 17 hits. He was previously drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 40th round in 2018 but opted to attend Wake Forest. Cusick also played club baseball during the summer of his freshman year. His sophomore year club stats, however, are far more impressive than his freshman summer.
Going back to the 2020 summer, he posted a 1.14 ERA with nine walks and 40 SO in five starts. He was also named a part of the Preseason Second Team All-American by Baseball America in 2021 as well as Preseason Third Team All-American by Perfect Game. He should follow in the footsteps of his college teammate Jared Schuster and give Wake Forest consecutive years with a pitcher drafted in the first round.
As far as Cusick’s pitches go, his strongest pitch by far is his fastball. Not only is the range on the pitch impressive, sitting anywhere from 94-97 mph, but it has been clocked as high as 102. Reports on him have also complimented the spin rate of this pitch. One of the reasons that this fastball works so well is his arm strength. Especially for a prospect, arm strength can be a huge part of a pitcher’s game, and Cusick’s blistering fastball is living proof of that.
If this report was written a year ago, Cusick’s breaking balls would be a huge weakness. It was an area that required much improvement, and improve it he did. His curveball has shown some promise this spring, improving to a 79-82 mph pitch. He has also developed his changeup into a pitch that shows good potential and a slider that can hit anywhere in the mid-80s, and disguise itself as looking like a curveball. If these pitches continue to develop, Cusick could become a very solid starter for whoever drafts him. His delivery requires little to no effort from him and looks very smooth. This may not seem like a huge deal, however, with his size, it can make these pitches that much harder to hit at the pro level.
While his arm strength and delivery are his strongest mechanics, his control is something that needs a lot of work. When he is in control of his pitches, he can pick spots beautifully. However, his control is very inconsistent. He often has a hard time throwing his strikes consistently, which must be improved if he wants to succeed in the big leagues. This is his main fundamental weakness. Statistically, teams may be skeptical of his last four starts, as he posted a 6.46 ERA during that stretch.
Pro Comparison: Tyler Glasnow
When thinking of a pro comparison for Cusick, it was hard to not see the same traits as Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow. Both have bigger builds, with Glasnow being 6′ 8″ weighing in at 225 lbs, and both have their strongest pitches coming from their fastball. While Glasnow’s curveball is more refined than Cusick’s at this point, Cusick could also get his to the point that it will become his second strongest pitch.
Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 19, Toronto Blue Jays
In most mock drafts, Cusick is projected to go somewhere in the teens. Our own John Lepore predicted in his latest mock draft for Cusick to go 25th to the Oakland Athletics. For this profile, the 19th spot seems like a good place for him. It seems that, in this draft, the Toronto Blue Jays are destined to go for a pitcher. They need some pitching prospects down their pipeline with Nate Pearson being ready soon to stay in the majors. The question will become who will be available once they come to that spot, and what level they would want to draft at, college for high school. For college pitchers, Cusick could be one of the best names on the board at that spot.
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From Goggle Images