Getting to Know: Ranger Suarez: Can The Phillies’ Rookie Starter Make An MLB Impact?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Ranger Suarez isn’t the Phillies’ best pitching prospect, but after three impressive starts at Triple-A he’s set to make his MLB debut today.  What can we expect from him?  Is there potential to make an impact?  Let’s take a look at get to know him a little bit better:

Rotoprofessor Pre-Season Ranking:
Rangers’ #8 Prospect (“B” Grade)

Throws – Left-Handed

Age – 22

2018 Statistics:
Double-A – 75.0 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 6.48 K/9, 2.40 BB/9
Triple-A – 15.2 IP, 0.57 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.89 K/9, 2.30 BB/9

What Others Said:
Suarez has always had a very strong feel for pitching, but had fringy stuff when he first started out. Then, in 2017, everything picked up a notch, starting with a fastball that he threw all year at 90-95 mph. He uses both breaking balls, an average slider and curveball, as well as an outstanding changeup at all points in the count, setting up hitters and keeping them off-balance with aplomb. He keeps his stuff down in the zone and with sink to get groundball outs and the increased velocity and sharpness of it all led to a lot more strikeouts. He’s never been one to walk guys and that didn’t change even as his stuff got better. – MLB.com

Thoughts:
While Suarez may have shown an improved strikeout rate in ’17 (9.39 K/9 courtesy of an 11.6% SwStr%), he’s seen that take a step backwards upon moving to the upper levels of the minors (9.6% SwStr%).  That alone is going to limit his upside, though his obviously strong control and ability to generate groundballs are both promising (BB/9 // GB%):

  • 2016 – 2.93 // 51.9%
  • 2017 – 2.57 // 53.1%
  • 2018 – 2.38 // 50.2%

The groundball rate is solid, but hardly elite and playing in Philadelphia it’s easy to envision home runs becoming an issue.  Unless he is able to rediscover the strikeout stuff he “found” in ’17 he’s going to be a tough pitcher to trust.  Time will tell, but at this point it’s hard to get excited given the underlying numbers.

Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Midseason Rankings:

Catcher
First Baseman
Second Base
Shortstop
Third Base
Outfield
Pitcher

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