Suarez got the call to the big leagues last Wednesday and quickly won over the Tigers fanbase with a knack for timely hitting. He has four hits — all of which have driven in a run — and a walk in 12 plate appearances. His OPS is a scalding 1.326. He has yet to commit an error in 15 chances. To say that things are going well right now would be a major understatement.
The need to call up Suarez was clear. While Andrew Romine and Danny Worth were playing solid if unspectacular defense at shortstop, their offensive numbers were too putrid to ignore. Romine has a .519 OPS on the season, and it took a two-week stretch of him hitting nearly .300 to get there. Worth's OPS had fallen all the way to .408 before he was designated for assignment. Alex Gonzalez's .452 OPS split the difference.
Meanwhile, Suarez's track record in the minor leagues suggests that he can be a significant upgrade at the plate. He hit .288/.360/.510 in 222 plate appearances between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this year. Of his 57 hits, 27 went for extra bases. He put up a .744 OPS in 2013 between Lakeland and Erie, and a .789 OPS at West Michigan in 2012. He will be an upgrade at the plate, but the Herculean numbers he's put up in his first week in the big leagues will not continue.
The biggest concerns about Suarez down the road are on the defensive side of the ball. Minor league stats should be taken with a grain of salt — the error totals, in particular — but scouts don't quite see him as a finished product yet. Our own Jordan Gorosh had this to say during his prospect countdown earlier this year.
On defense, he's still a bit raw, but the tools are certainly there for him to be an every day shortstop. His arm is major league average, and the hands are good as well. The actions and demeanor are superior to Hernan Perez's and it's no contest, to me at least, who of the two of them is the long term shortstop. Suarez has a bit of a ways to go, as he still needs to work on qualifying runners and making routine plays, and that's fine. He's still a young guy at 22, and has some time in Double-A and/or Triple-A this upcoming season in order to figure that out.
Based on the scouting reports we have seen, it would be unfair to lump Suarez in with the likes of Chris Shelton, Brennan Boesch, and Quintin Berry. For one, Suarez is far younger than the other three were when they made their respective splashes in Detroit. Scouts also see Suarez as a potential regular when he hits his prime, whereas the other three were never more than a flash in the pan. Still, Suarez's early numbers remind me of the "honeymoon periods" that those three experienced during their early days with the Tigers.
Suarez has the potential to be the shortstop of the future in Detroit, but one week is not long enough to anoint him the chosen one. He is still only 22 years old and will go through growing pains. The Tigers also have another budding young shortstop in Jose Iglesias who will push Suarez for the starting job when he comes back from injury in 2015. Suarez will have a chance to cement his spot in the lineup before then, but let's show a little patience until we know what to expect from the newest member of the Tigers.