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HAMMOCK: Hard-working Gustafson in town this weekend

Tim Gustafson 

Tim Gustafson 

Gustafson finds form for Gwinnett trip

Just a few years ago, Tim Gustafson was so close, geographically and otherwise, to the Atlanta Braves' big-league team.

The Parkview grad pitched for Class AAA Gwinnett, just a step from the majors, for a good chunk of the 2010 season. If he performed his best, who knows what could have happened?

Unfortunately, Gustafson wasn't at his best in Gwinnett.

The right-hander's underwhelming numbers and the franchise's pitching depth led to the Braves waiving him in May 2011. He finished out last year with the Carolina Mudcats, seemingly pulling him farther away from his big-league dream while ending his hopes with a team that drafted him in the ninth round of the 2006 draft out of Georgia Tech.

Gustafson, one of the nicest, hardest-working kids you'll meet, turned 27 this past offseason, but he wasn't ready to give up baseball. He's been fighting to find his old form since Tommy John surgery in 2007 and he's been working as hard as ever this season, first at AA Pensacola and most recently at AAA Louisville, which visits the Gwinnett Braves this weekend.

That form is beginning to appear just in time for his homecoming series in Gwinnett.

Gustafson is on a run of four quality starts, capped by a 6 -inning outing Monday against Toledo. He's given up just two earned runs in those four starts in 22 innings of work, lowering his AAA ERA this season to 4.30.

His turnaround happened after a July 12 game vs. the G-Braves when he allowed four earned runs in four innings. His ERA is 2.05 since the all-star break.

Currently in a starting role, Gustafson also has pitched out of the bullpen as a minor-leaguer (of his 146 appearances, 86 are starts), but expect to see him start this weekend in Gwinnett (possibly Saturday). If you go to Coolray Field for one of the games, make sure to root for Gustafson.

A guy who works this hard for his dreams deserves it.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.