It was a hot evening in Sacramento for Andrew Suarez's Triple-A debut. He made quite the first impression, striking out three batters surrounded by a ground ball single in the opening inning. He eventually struck out eight Isotopes in 5.2 innings in what was the most encouraging aspect of the night.
Early in the outing, Suarez fell victim to some bloops and bad breaks. The first four batters to reach base against him did so via the following happenings:
- Seeing-eye ground ball
- Soft bloop just over the sprinting reach of shortstop Juniel Querecuto
- Grade-A Texas-league pop-up that dropped into no-man's land down the right field line
- A double awarded to Ryan McMahon after center fielder Wynton Bernard lost the ball in the sun on a line drive hit almost directly at him
So at this point in the outing, Suarez was pitching fantastically. He was through four innings having allowed those four baserunners, walking no one, and striking out six using his two best pitches — fastball and slider. More on those later.
FIP is already informing us of Suarez's misfortune, displaying a 1.42 mark despite a 7.94 ERA. In 11 starts for Richmond, his ERA and FIP were almost identical, at 2.96 and 2.97, respectively.
The rest of the evening for Suarez was less encouraging. He surrendered six more hits in his final 1.2 frames, and these hits were not of the bad luck variety. The contact was noticeably louder off Albuquerque bats, including a fly ball triple down the right-field line that just missed clearing the fence and a double down the left field line that one-hopped the wall.
Still, what I took away from his 5.2 innings was that Suarez has well-above average strikeout capabilities thanks to continually improving command of his fastball and slider. He topped out at 95 once with the four-seam, hit 94 eight to ten times, and mostly sat 92-93. The slider was lethal to right-handers, as he relentlessly pounded the pitch down and in for many swinging strikes — a majority of which were for strike three. He totaled 12 swing-throughs, and though I didn't keep exact count, I would guess about eight came from the slider and four from the fastball.
He also featured an occasional changeup in the mid-80s and a high-70s curveball.
Suarez, like fellow southpaw Ty Blach, is successful in part because of his ability to stay in the strike zone. The highest walk rate he has posted with any team since being drafted in 2015 was 5.6% in a mere five innings with the AZL squad. Facing a total of 1,061 batters as a pro, he was walked only 50 of them, which equates to a spectacular 4.7 BB%.
For comparison, Blach owned a 5.1 BB% in the minors.
But of course, with lack of walks comes a higher percentage of hits. And that's just the type of pitcher Suarez is. He and Blach are very similar, except Suarez is a much better strikeout producer than Blach, and if Suarez translates to the majors like Blach has, he's on track to be a productive major league starter.
— 19-year-old left-hander Marco Gonzalez from Venezuela is rocking a 31.0 K% through his first 3 starts (13.1 IP) with the Dominican rookie team. He struck out six and walked one in six scoreless innings during his third outing of the year.
— Center fielder Malique Ziegler's first 15 plate appearances with Salem-Keizer have been good. He owns three singles, one double, one home run, two walks, two strikeouts, and one sacrifice fly.
— Caleb Baragar ate up eight innings in Augusta's eighth win in their last 12 games. In his second straight outing with a game score higher than 67, Baragar allowed one run on seven baserunners while keeping his pitch count incredibly low. Last outing, Baragar threw 90 in seven innings. He was even more efficient on Saturday, needing just 80 to get through eight.
- Sacramento: Michael Roth (4.44 ERA, 1.64 WHIP)
- Richmond: Jose Flores (2.31 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
- San Jose: Mark Reyes (5.70 ERA, 1.86 WHIP)
- Augusta: Stephen Woods (3.78 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
- Salem-Keizer: Alex Bostic (7.71 ERA, 2.36 WHIP)
TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP
- Tyler Beede: DNP
- Christian Arroyo: DNP
- Bryan Reynolds: 0-for-5, 2 SO
- Steven Duggar: DNP
- Chris Shaw: 1-for-4
- Sandro Fabian: 2-for-4, 2B
- Heath Quinn: 1-for-3, R, SO
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Andrew Suarez: 5.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 8 K
- Sam Coonrod: DNP
- Matt Krook: DNP
- Aramis Garcia: 1-for-4, SO
- C.J. Hinojosa: 1-for-4
- Reyes Moronta: DNP
- Rodolfo Martinez: DNP
- Austin Slater: DNP
- Kelvin Beltre: 3-for-3, 3 R, 2B, BB
- Dan Slania: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
- Cory Taylor: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Chase Johnson: DNP
- Jalen Miller: 0-for-3, BB
- Melvin Adon: DNP
- Garrett Williams: DNP
- Dylan Davis: DNP
- Ryder Jones: 0-for-4, 2 SO
- Hunter Cole: DNP
- Miguel Gomez: 0-for-4
- Ryan Howard: 3-for-5, SO, SB