Atlanta Braves Scouting Report on RHP Matt Custred

Aug 20, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) kicks dirt on the mound in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves have been drafting a ton of big arm relievers late in drafts in the last few seasons. Matt Custred was a recent example. What can he be going forward?

Who Is He?

The Atlanta Braves drafted Matt Custred out of Texas Tech in the 31st round of the 2015 draft. He had a big fastball, but he did not have much of a college track record, only making 26 total appearances with 36 walks and 43 strikeouts over 33 innings, so there was some intrigue into what the Braves saw in Custred.

He came out in 2015 in his short time in the system and absolutely dominated. Between GCL and Danville, he made 19 appearances, throwing 32 2/3 innings with a 1.38 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and a 9/46 BB/K ratio!

The Braves moved Custred up to Rome, and while he threw well, he didn’t really have that same type of season as some of the walk issues from college rared their ugly head.

Most of all, Custred came out of the box with a struggle. In April, he made 7 appearances, throwing 8 1/3 innings, with a 9.72 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, and a 9/10 BB/K ratio. It was also the one month that he was hit the hrdest by fly balls as well.

Custred got things righted to some degree in May and June, but then had a July where he had a 15/5 BB/K ratio over 9 2/3 innings. To his credit, he did get his act together to throw very well from August 1st on as Rome streaked toward a title, making 12 appearances (including postseason), throwing 14 2/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a 6/20 BB/K ratio.

Overall, in 2016, Custred made 40 regular season appearances, throwing 56 2/3 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, posting a 36/64 BB/K ratio on the year.

Scouting Report

Size/Delivery

Custred is listed at 6’6 and 240 pounds, so he’s a very intimidating presence on the mound. That said, he’s not got much of any bad weight on him, so he certainly doesn’t look 240, but you can see by his cut that he’s well-developed.

Custred, like most relievers, sticks to throwing exclusively from the stretch. He throws from the third base side of the rubber. After a quick knee lift, he tucks his shoulder hard and opens his lead leg toward the first base side as he strides toward the plate.

He comes out of a high 3/4 arm slot that seems higher as Custred is moving his body toward first base as the ball is released. He does use a lot of body energy toward the first base side, leaving him out of position to field at the end of his throws, and I did catch two times that hitters bunted toward the third base side, and it was an easy single.

Custred’s drastic move toward the first base side from the third base side of the rubber often leaves him placing his lead foot down in multiple places throughout the course of a game when he’s struggling, and this leaves him to really exposing his arm for a long time to the hitter.

When he’s going well, Custred’s delivery allows him to hide his high arm slot until nearly the last moment before the ball is about to be released, making it near impossible for a hitter to pick up.

Pitches

Custred’s a two-pitch pitcher. His primary pitch is his heavy fastball. While he gets four-seam spin on the pitch, he uses it more like a two-seam pitch, and I cannot find a confirmation of which grip he does use. His height does give him a good plane on the pitch when he’s got good mechanics going, regardless of the grip.

The gun readings in A-ball broadcasts are always a bit wary. From the games I saw, Custred was sitting 92-95 with the fastball, touching 97. I saw a range all the way from 91-99 on him in games I saw, but there are some stadiums that are known to have “juiced” guns, so those I tend not to trust for peak velocities.

Custred is most effective with the fastball when he can locate it from the mid-thigh to the bottom of the knee cap. When he has the ball up higher, he tends to get hit hard as the ball does not have a ton of natural movement to it.

Custred’s primary second pitch is a 12-6 curve. He throws the pitch with a good amount of loop that is natural from his high arm slot. When he’s in his mechanics well, the curve is a dynamic strikeout pitch that hitters simply can’t do anything with.

The curve struggles mightily when he struggles in his mechanics, and I’ve noted that he really struggles to work the sides of the plate with the curve when he is not in the right spot mechanically. When he’s on, the strong 12-6 break can be spotted across the plate, which makes the pitch even more effective.

Video

Future Outlook

While how they get to that point are very different, I found it very interesting that when I paused video on Matt Custred and Kevin Jepsen, they ended up with nearly the exact same release point on their pitches. This is interesting in that Jepsen has a very similar velocity spectrum.

Custred may have a similar path to the major leagues as Jepsen once Jepsen made the move to the bullpen, where he spent multiple seasons at high-A before things really clicked and he exploded up the upper minors to the majors and stuck as a major leaguer.

His mechanics will be the determining factor to the speed that he gets to the majors and whether he even gets there at all.

Custred will most likely be at high-A Florida this year to begin, but he can be expected to move quickly if he can get his mechanics lined up consistently as his stuff is nothing short of dominant when he’s in line mechanically.

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