Eugenio Suarez was recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday, and will likely take over everyday shortstop duties for the Tigers. The Tigers have made a corresponding roster move, designating shortstop Danny Worth for assignment.
Suarez carries a .288/.360/.510/.860 line between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo to Detroit, in addition to 27 extra-base hits, nine stolen bases, 9.46 percent walk rate and 21.2 percent strikeout rate. It's a move that needed to be made, as the Tigers have received a .191/.244/.240 triple slash line from the shortstop position so far this season, a number that Suarez looks to improve on.
Here is some video that I took this spring on the back fields:
Along with my write up, where I ranked him #8 among Tigers prospects this offseason:
I had the chance to see Suarez up close and personal this past week, and the only word I can accurately use to describe his play: annoying. He's annoying, and pesky, and aggravating to play against. I love this in a player, and it's often used synonymously with gritty (#grit), although in this instance, I think it's mutually exclusive. I would hate playing against this guy, because he's a pest.
At the plate, Suarez has an advanced approach, and works the count into his favor. I'd estimate that he saw roughly 5 pitches per PA, and worked himself back from 0-2 to 3-2 two different times. While he doesn't have a world of pop, he's got a pretty nice little hit tool, and hits the ball hard often. Suarez takes a bunch of pitches, and even though his approach is a bit passive, he shortens up with two strikes, and often works himself a walk or puts the ball in play. That's fine with me. If Suarez can somehow figure out how to hit .260-.270 and continue to walk at close to a 10% rate, you may really have something here. Even if he doesn't hit for pop, if he can get on base 34 or 35% of the time, that's damn good for a MIF, let alone a SS.
On defense, he's still a bit raw, but the tools are certainly there for him to be an every day SS. His arm is major league average, and the hands are good as well. The actions and demeanor are superior to Hernan Perez' and it's no contest, to me at least, who of the two of them is the long term SS. 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 AA/AAA this upcoming season in order to figure that out. With Jose Iglesias' uncertainty this season, depending on Suarez' play (and Alex Gonzalez' of course), you could see him get some time later in the year. If you'd have asked me two months ago, I'd tell you that there was a really good chance that Suarez was getting dealt for some piece at the trade deadline. Now, I'm not so sure. While Hernan Perez may have a better overall tool package, I'll take Suarez on the baseball diamond.
The anecdote about the routine plays is important. That's a hurdle that he has to overcome, but frankly, a botched routine ground ball every once in awhile couldn't be worse than what the Tigers were putting at shortstop the last two months.
Here's an eyewitness scouting report from Tucker Blair of Baseball Prospectus on Suarez:
|Born: 07/18/1991 (Age: 22)|
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|Height: 5' 11"||Weight: 180|
|Primary Position: SS|
|Secondary Position: 2B|
|Small-framed; little physical projection left; thicker bottom-half; legs are maxed out; top half could see more muscle but could become too bulky for a SS.|
|Dates Seen||4/22/14 - 4/24/14, 5/3/14|
|Affiliate||Erie SeaWolves (AA, Tigers)|
Keeps his calm; looks to enjoy the game while keeping himself locked in; can look apathetic at times with body motions, but the fire is evident in the eyes.
|MLB ETA||Risk Factor||OFP||Realistic Role||Video|
|2015||Medium||50||45; Utility Infielder||No|
|Hit||50||Swing is short; compact; minimal movement; quick wrist flicks; steady path through zone; solid-average bat speed; keeps hands and elbow quiet; feet can become sloppy at times; moderate load; easy swing; shows ability to pull hands in against inside pitches; average eye and discipline; recognizes spin off hand.|
|Power||40||Minimal power; quick bat and mild arc allow for Suarez to drive the ball; quick torquing hips; doubles power but shows ability to pull and drive ball down the line; will never be known as a power guy.|
|Baserunning/Speed||50||Not a burner; shows average speed; second gear is decent; ability to steal bases is more based on ability to read a pitcher.|
|Glove||50||Average range; moves well to the SS hole; less range up middle; quick feet; soft hands; ability to charge short-hoppers; footwork around base needs work; back-hands too many plays in the hole when he could simply set himself and provide an easier throw.|
|Arm||55||Plus arm strength; throws are erratic; sometimes will short-arm to first base, resulting in balls sailing or below the first basemen's knees.|
Suarez has some ability, but none of his tools are loud. He could be a second division starter with a decent hit tool, but this is not an impact bat and likely never will be. The most important aspect of his game is the ability to stick at shortstop, which will boost his value to a club solely because he is able to play multiple positions on the infield.
I agree with Tucker on most counts, although I do think Suarez will hit for a half tick more power than the "40" grade; "45" is more appropriate, but that's just picking nits.
Essentially, Suarez is going to play big league average defense at shortstop, and contribute a bit with the bat. He's got the ability to hit .240- to .250 right now and walk a bit, which as an overall package, is a substantial upgrade on other Tigers shortstop options. The Tigers have two more months until the trade deadline, so that gives Suarez ~150 PA to show what he can do. Otherwise, the Tigers may still look to find a shortstop via trade.