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Out of nowhere, Bryse Wilson makes his major league debut

Bryse Wilson wasn’t expected to see the majors this season, even considering how ambitious the Braves have been with prospects. He started the year in High-A ball. He’s two years removed from high school.

Yet here he is starting for the Braves on Monday, making his major league debut at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

Wilson, 20, will be the youngest pitcher to start a game this season. The first-place Braves already started two 20-year olds this season in Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard, making this the first time since 1910 the franchise will use three different 20-or-younger arms.

Wilson made 23 starts at three minor-league levels, earning a 3.27 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 123-2/3 innings. He’s the reigning International League player of the week after pitching eight shutout innings against Louisville. Wilson struck out 13 in that game, a Triple-A Gwinnett record.

He’s held right-handed hitters to a .227 average while limiting left-handers to a .237 mark. He was second in the Braves system in strikeouts and third in innings and ERA.

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“Everything has been really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I liked the guy the first time I saw him in spring training that first year he signed. I remember watching the game and seeing him there. Man, he was an impressive kid then. Haven’t seen much of him since. Just following his career, big rise through the minors. Very impressive kid. Just the physical part of it, strong mentally. I’m excited to see him.”

Wilson’s 2018 is an encore to the 2017 campaign that awarded him Rome pitcher of the year. He posted a 2.50 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 26 starts. Opposing hitters managed a .194 average against him.

Kevin Gausman was scheduled to start Monday, setting up a matchup with fellow trade-deadline acquisition Chris Archer. Gausman was informed a couple days ago the team might push him back, and he learned Sunday that’d indeed be the case.

The Braves drafted Wilson in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He’s the first member of their 2016 class to debut, and fourth overall from that draft. Wilson was a two-way athlete, starring at linebacker, quarterback and receiver as a high schooler in North Carolina.

It’s easy to see how: Wilson doesn’t look like a 20-year old. He’s built, muscular; it’d be easy to draw parallels physically with fellow North Carolinian Madison Bumgarner, though Wilson’s a few inches shorter.

“I like those guys who’ve played some football,” Snitker said while lauding Wilson’s physical gifts.

The Braves have re-implemented their unofficial six-man rotation with the move. They’re off next Monday, allowing extra rest for their regular starters two times through. This is just a spot start for Wilson, Snitker confirmed.

Wilson could still earn another start, joining Touki Toussaint, Max Fried and Allard as candidates for spot outings in the final month. Rosters will expand Sept. 1, with the minor league season ending soon after.

Star outfielder Ronald Acuna is the National League player on the week. Second baseman Ozzie Albies was an All-Star. The Braves’ youth movement persists, as do their odds in the playoff race.

In fact, the Braves could become the first team since the 1913 Philadelphia Athletics to use three pitchers younger than 21 and make the playoffs.

But one step at a time. And Wilson – suddenly and unexpectedly to most - is taking his first on Monday.

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