Brandon Cunniff, who spent the 2009 season as part of the Lee University team that reached the NAIA World Series, has returned to organized baseball as a minor league free agent for the Atlanta Braves.
Cunniff, a right-hander, spent his junior season with the Flames and compiled a 4-1 record. A native Californian, he transferred back to his home state and finished his college career at Cal State-San Bernadino, where he earned All-America status and drew enough notice to be drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 27th round of the 2010 draft.
Despite a strong debut season (2-0, 2.34, 5 saves in 18 rookie league games), Cunniff was cut by the Marlins the following spring. It did not take him long, however, to find a home in the independent Frontier League (whose president is former Lookouts general manager Bill Lee). From 2010 to the first two months of 2013, he pitched for River City, then Southern Illinois, in the Frontier League, compiling exceptional numbers: 93 games (all in relief) 7-0 record, 25 saves, 1.77 ERA.
And that's not a typo: in four pro seasons, Cunniiff (9-0) has not lost a game.
The early part of 2013 showed a player ready to move to the next level. In 12 games, Cunniff posted eight saves with a 0-0 record and 0.00 ERA. In 12 innings, he allowed only four hits with three walks and 23 strikeouts. The Braves acquired his contract from Southern Illinois Friday and assigned him to Advanced Class A Lynchburg.
He made his Braves debut Sunday with the Hillcats, working a scoreless inning.