2021 MLB Draft Profile: RHP Ryan Cusick, Wake Forest

Ryan Csick

We’re back to the college pitching ranks for the next MLB Draft profile. This time, we’re looking at Ryan Cusick, the large right-hander from Wake Forest University.

Previous Profiles

Vitals
6’6, 235 pounds
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
DOB: Nov. 12, 1999

Location
Winston-Salem, N.C.
Year: Junior

Rankings
The Athletic: 12
Baseball America: 37
ESPN: 31
FanGraphs: 20
MLB Pipeline: 24
Perfect Game: 15*
Prospects Live: 14

*Not updated since Jan. 5

Slot recommended bonus (No. 29): $2,424,600

Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and videos.

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If Cusick reminds you of Bobby Miller, you’re not alone. Kiley McDaniel made the comparison when he gave the Dodgers Cusick in his second mock draft. For what it’s worth, Keith Law also gave the Dodgers Cusick in his first mock. The hulking right-hander made 12 starts for Wake Forest and in 70 innings, he posted a 4.24 ERA, a 35.3 K% and a 10.4 BB%.

Cusick’s standout pitch is a consistently high-90s fastball that breaks the century mark. It’s high-spin 4-seamer with lots of life that helps it play up — if that’s possible. It’s effective up in the strike zone, which we know the Dodgers look for in their pitching prospects. He pairs his double-plus fastball with a low-80s curveball that has lots of swing-and-miss potential. It has 11-5 shape and good depth. He also has a slurvy slider and a high-80s changeup that he uses sparingly. Both of those pitches are currently below-average, which plays into the reliever risk Cusick carries with his profile.

Despite having some of the best stuff in the draft, he has a hard time commanding it. He throws strikes, but he has difficulty putting the ball where he wants. He has a delivery that features a little extra effort and some long arm action. Those play into some inconsistently with his release points, leading to fringy command. The Dodgers have been known to iron out the wrinkles in a prospect’s delivery, and if they pop Cusick, they’ll have a little work to do. But it’s easy to dream on the arm and stuff.

Video

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Cusick’s rankings above show there’s a decent range of where evaluators think he’ll go. He has a Top-10 arm, but the lack of a third (let alone a fourth) pitch and spotty command throw up significant reliever red flags. However, the Dodgers once drafted Dustin May, and he was basically a 2-pitch pitcher. Before he blew out his elbow, he had shown improvement and the addition of a legitimate third pitch that had him blossoming into a potential ace. With Cusick’s arm, the player development staff could have a field day with him. If he’s there at 29 and the Dodgers take him, he should be a relatively easy sign. Cusick has No. 2 starter upside. If not, he could, easily, be a high-leverage reliever.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.