Former River City Rascals right handed pitcher Brandon Cunniff was added to the Atlanta Braves roster last Sunday (April 5).
Cunniff will fill the void left on the roster from Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, Jr. being traded to the San Diego Padres. The reliever spent parts of two seasons with River City and portions of three seasons in the Frontier League. Cunniff is the fourth former Rascal to reach the Big Leagues.
The Miami Marlins picked Cunniff in the 27th round of the 2010 draft from the University of Cailfornia San Bernardino. He pitched for GCL Marlins and Class A Jamestown Jammers in hirst first pro season. He was released after one year in the Marlins system and joined River City prior to the 2011 season.
In a season and a half with the Rascals, Cunniff appeared in 72 games, and the righty went 6-0 with 1.67 ERA and 13 saves. Cunniff was dealt to the Southern Illinois Miners during the 2012 season and helped the Miners win the league championship. In his three seasons of Frontier League play, Cunniff was 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 25 saves in 93 games.
Atlanta purchased Cunniff’s contract from the Miners in June of 2013 and assigned him to the Advanced A-Lynchburg Hillcats. He finished the season with a 1.99 ERA in 20 games for the Braves affiliate. He began the next season in Lynchburg before being promoted to Mississippi Braves of the Class AA Southern League. In his two stops, Cunniff 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 42 games pitched.
Cunniff began this year in the Braves major league spring training camp. He was optioned to Class AAA Gwinnett before the start of regular season. Follwing the trade of Kimbrel, the Braves needed another arm in the bullpen and brought up Cunniff.
“He is a quiet hard-working, humble leader who deserves this opportunity,” River City Manager Steve Brook said of his former pitcher. “We wish him continued success in the Atlanta Braves system and believe he has a long and successful a major league career ahead of him.”
Cunniff joins shortstop Justin Chastain (Yankees), left handed pitcher Joe Thatcher (Brewers, Astros), and right handed pitcher Josh Kinney (Cardinals, White Sox, Mariners) as the only former Rascals to reach the Majors.