by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Tigers had a major need at short, after losing Jose Iglesias for the season and unsuccessfully trying to plug the hole with a host of mediocre options. Finally they decided to turn to Eugenio Suarez, a prospect who has consistently outperformed expectations while climbing the ladder in the minor leagues.
Last season he split time between Single and Double-A, hitting .264 with 10 HR and 12 SB. Power was not expected to be his game, though he’s grown in that regard each season. He had 30 doubles and 6 triples last season and, prior to his promotion to the Majors, had 17 doubles, 1 triple and 8 HR between Double and Triple-A.
It’s possible, however, that he may be better off not trying to hit for power. As Baseball America, who ranked him as the team’s eight best prospect heading into the season stated:
“Suarez has a quiet approach with a short, flat swing from both sides of the plate that allows him to keep the bat head in the zone a long time. He makes frequent contact but also shows solid plate patience, though his swing got inconsistent at Double-A when he would get too uphill trying to launch the ball. Suarez has below-average power, so he’s at his best staying inside the ball and working the gaps.”
Especially playing in the spacious Comerica Park, home runs simply may not be his game (despite already hitting two in the Majors). That’s not to say that he won’t be able to hit 8-12 in a season, but at this point it’s hard to imagine him maturing into much more than that.
His speed is also a question. While he has stolen as many as 21 bases in a season, he’s unlikely to reach that type of level in the Majors. Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 (click here for his full Tigers’ Top 10 list), who also ranked Suarez 8th among Tigers’ prospects, said:
“Suarez has average speed and his ability in the lower-levels to run on catchers and pitchers with poor pickoff moves faded as he stole nine bases while getting caught 11 times in Double-A.”
He was better prior to his recall this season, with 9 SB in 11 attempts, but you still have to think his upside is capped. Maybe if he surprises people he can push 20 SB (similar to Daniel Murphy), be he may simply be more of a 10-15 type option.
So, we are talking about a 10/10 type hitter. That’s someone who has value, but he’s not going to be a must own option.
The average could also prove to be a bit of a concern. While it’s not an unreasonable number, his strikeout rate was at 21.2% at the time of his recall. In fact, since 2011 he owns a 19.3% mark in the minors. With a jump upon reaching the Majors, it’s not impossible that he hits around .260ish.
The bottom line? He could be a player similar to Howie Kendrick, though with a slightly worse average. Consider him a spot play MI, or an option in deeper formats, and nothing more.
Sources – Minor League Central, Baseball Reference, Baseball America, Prospect 361