Minor League Baseball has been rolling out its end-of-season award winners this week, and a pair of left handed pitching prospects have already been honored. Atlanta Braves prospects Kyle Muller and Jared Shuster were named to the Triple-A International League and Double-A Southern League All-Star teams, respectively, as the lineup’s LHP starter. The awards, which were voted on by the league’s managers, caps big years for the duo. At Triple-A Gwinnett, Muller continued to dominate lineups while contributing to the big-league Braves down the stretch with a pair of critical spot starts. Shuster, at Double-A Mississippi, was the Braves’ lone participant in the 2022 Futures Game during the MLB All-Star break.
Coming off a 2021 season that saw Muller make his MLB debut, the imposing lefty started the 2022 campaign at Gwinnett and in his first four starts struck out 28 hitters in only 19.1 innings, while allowing a .214 opponents’ batting average, earning him a call-up to the Atlanta Braves for a single start.
After coming back to Gwinnett in early May, Muller spent two and a half months feasting on Triple-A hitters with a 2.77 ERA in 12 starts through mid-July. Muller filled up the strike zone with a 10.8 K/9 ratio and allowed more than two runs in a start just twice over that 12-game stretch. Unfortunately, a broken non-throwing hand brought an end to that hot run on the mound for Muller as he missed nearly a month.
The 2016 second round pick in the MLB Draft bounced back and forth between Gwinnett and Atlanta, pitching with a splint on his broken right hand during the season’s final two months. While Muller’s Triple-A numbers stayed solid, they did suffer a bit as he finished off the season with a 3.79 ERA in August and September at Gwinnett.
Even with the late season statistical dip, Muller led all left-handed International League starters who made at least 15 starts with a 10.6 K/9 and a 3.98 K/BB ratios. Even while missing three weeks with his hand injury and making spot starts for the Braves, Muller led the International League with 159 total strikeouts over his 23 league starts.
Meanwhile, Shuster, the Braves first round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, spent the first two-thirds of the 2022 season with the Mississippi Braves and showed why the Braves spent such a high draft pick on him. Over 17 appearances (16 starts) at the level, Shuster pitched to a 2.78 ERA and 0.960 WHIP, both of which led all Southern League left-handed starters who made at least 12 Southern League starts.
Don’t let Shuster’s record of 6-7 deceive you as the lefty allowed two or fewer runs in eight different games at Mississippi in which he either took a loss or no-decision.
As one of just three Southern League pitchers, and the only left-hander, to have at least 105 strikeouts while pitching in fewer than 20 games, Shuster recorded 10.5 K/9 and only 2.2 BB/9 at Mississippi. Shuster’s 4.82 K/BB ratio was the third best amongst all Southern League starters and led all lefties in that category as well. He had two separate games where he recorded 12 strikeouts and recorded at least seven Ks in seven of his 17.
All of the success at the Double-A level eventually led to Shuster earning a late July promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett where he spent the final two months of the minor league season. Shuster currently comes in as the Atlanta Braves’ No. 2 prospect on MLB Pipeline, just behind the organization’s top-prospect Muller, on the team’s Top 30 list.