December 7, 2022

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Shuster fans 12, ties Southern League record with 8 straight K’s

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Jared Shuster was in the midst of the best start of his young career when the rain started to fall.

Shuster, the Braves’ No. 10 prospect, had struck out eight consecutive Biloxi hitters when the tarp came out in the top of the sixth inning. Just over an hour later, the game was called, meaning his night ended with him tying the Southern League record for most strikeouts in a row. In total, the left-hander fanned a career-high 12 over five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk in Double-A Mississippi’s 4-0 rain-shortened win.

Facing a Shuckers lineup that features four of the Brewers’ top 30 prospects, Shuster allowed one baserunner to reach in each of the first three innings before settling into a groove. He tossed 56 of his 80 pitches for strikes and picked up 22 swings-and-misses for a whiff rate of 27.5%.

His record-tying streak started with one out in the third inning. Following a single by Brewers No. 3 prospect Garrett Mitchell, Shuster fanned Brewers No. 11 prospect Felix Valerio — who doubled in the first inning — on four pitches. Then, Joey Wiemer — the No. 99 prospect in baseball — worked an 0-2 count back to 3-2 before whiffing on a changeup.

Shuster needed 13 pitches to mow down Thomas Dillard, Ashton McGee and Triston Lutz in the fourth inning, and another 13 to set down Brent Diaz, Cam Devanney and Gabe Holt in the fifth. He got all 12 of his strikeouts on swing-and-misses with his three-pitch arsenal, fooling batters with his fastball, slider and standout changeup.

The 23-year-old is the first M-Brave to reach 12 strikeouts since Braves No. 2 prospect Spencer Strider did it on Aug. 6 last season. His shares the Southern League consecutive strikeout record with four others: Jim Jefferson, Chattanooga Lookouts (1988), Dan Miceli, Carolina Mudcats (1996), Anthony Reyes, Tennessee Smokies (2004), and Nik Turley, Chattanooga Lookouts (2017).

In Shuster’s season debut on April 10, he struck out five while walking one in five innings, allowing one run on four hits. He has a 0.90 ERA and a 2-0 record through 10 innings this season, fanning 17 and walking 2.

Shuster was selected out of Wake Forest with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and started 2021 at High-A Rome. In 58 1/3 innings and 14 starts, he posted a 3.70 ERA with 73 K’s to 15 walks. He was called up to Double-A on Sept. 1 and struggled in three starts, allowing 12 runs on 19 hits in 14 2/3 innings for a 7.36 ERA.

While he was hit hard, he still filled up the zone and recorded 17 punchouts. Shuster’s high-strikeout ability coupled with a repeatable delivery and a great changeup have him rolling to start the season, giving Atlanta another young pitcher to be excited about.

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