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Reynoso takes wild road to Gwinnett

Photo: David McGregor
 Gwinnett Braves pitcher Ryne Reynoso signs autographs for fans shortly before the start of Saturday’s game with Charlotte at Coolray Field. 

Photo: David McGregor Gwinnett Braves pitcher Ryne Reynoso signs autographs for fans shortly before the start of Saturday’s game with Charlotte at Coolray Field. 

LAWRENCEVILLE — Ryne Reynoso's baseball journey has been an unusual one to say the least.

The Gwinnett Braves right-hander grew up in a tiny Idaho town of less than 2,000 and his sports dreams were about hockey at first.

THE REYNOSO FILE

Name: Ryne Reynoso

Team: Gwinnett Braves

Position: Starting pitcher

Age: 25

Throws: Right

Bats: Left

Size: 6-foot-2, 225

Hometown: Bellevue, Idaho

College: Boston College

How acquired: 26th-round draft pick in 2006

Minor league stats: Has a 3.25 career ERA in 95 games, 51 of them starts. … Best season was in 2008, when he was 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA for Myrtle Beach and made Carolina League all-star team. … Was 7-9 with a 3.47 ERA last season with Mississippi.

Worth noting: Was mainly an outfielder in college. … Although drafted in 2006, didn't begin playing in the minors until 2007. … Led Wood River High School to an Idaho state championship. … Hometown is near the Sun Valley ski area.

Did you know? Lives with Braves pitchers Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen in Buckhead.

Then, when he made it across the country to Boston College, he was an outfielder rather than a pitcher.

But the Atlanta Braves liked what they saw of Reynoso pitching in a summer college league and just a few years later the 25-year-old prospect with the unlikely story is just one step away from the major leagues.

"It's crazy," said Reynoso, who will make his first start of the season for the G-Braves today against Charlotte at Coolray Field. "Talk about a wild road. I really can't believe it myself the way things worked out."

Reynoso wasn't taken until the 26th round of the 2006 draft and even that seemed like a reach. But four years later, he has progressed farther than any Braves pitching prospect taken that June other than Atlanta reliever Kris Medlen.

An unheralded relief pitcher during his first season in 2007, Reynoso started getting attention by going 10-6 as a starter for Myrtle Beach the next season and had a solid season at Class AA Mississippi last year although his record was just 7-9.

"He earned the promotion," G-Braves pitching coach Derek Botelho said of Reynoso's move to Class AAA.

"I'm really excited," Reynoso said. "I was hoping to get a shot at the rotation here."

Actually, Reynoso is thankful to be playing baseball anywhere, let alone pitching in the International League.

Neither major league scouts nor college recruiters spend a lot of time in rural Idaho looking for players, although Reynoso's high school team did win a state championship.

So how did Reynoso get his chance to keep playing baseball?

"I went to a showcase in California and some schools knew of me from that, but nobody offered me a baseball scholarship or anything," Reynoso said. "But I'd dreamed about playing hockey at Boston College since I was a kid and when I flew into Boston on the way to a college visit to Dartmouth I decided to visit the campus.

"I fell in love with BC and Boston, and said I'd do anything to get a chance to play there. I know that Dartmouth is nice, too. But it's in the woods in New Hampshire, like where I'm from in Idaho. I wanted a chance to live in a big city."

BC gave Reynoso a shot to keep playing baseball, minus a scholarship, and he wasn't a bad outfielder. It wasn't until he went to the mound fulltime in the New England Summer College League, though, that the Braves thought he might be worth signing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

"I've gotten a lot of breaks along the way," Reynoso said.

Pitching in Gwinnett makes for a nice living arrangement for Reynoso. He spent the winter staying with Medlen and Tommy Hanson, and that is continuing.

"We've been buddies for quite a while," Reynoso said of his relationship with the Atlanta pitchers. "I'm definitely the mediator there. Tommy is real low key and Kris is bouncing off the walls all the time.

"I don't know how long they'll put up with me, but right now it's going well."

Reynoso didn't do that well in a late-season start for the G-Braves last year, but Botelho thinks that he's ready for the challenge this season. "He threw real well for me this spring," the pitching coach said.

Reynoso relies on his fastball and a slider, with his off-speed pitch a work in progress. "Since he lives with Medlen, maybe Kris' circle change will rub off on him," Botelho said.

"Just being around those guys, I learn so much about what it is like to be in the major leagues," Reynoso said. "It makes me want to get there even more."