San Francisco Giants Select LHP Andrew Suarez in the Second Round
With the 61st pick of the 2015 MLB Draft, the Giants selected left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez out of the University of Miami. It’s an interesting pick, mainly because of Suarez’s age and the back-story.
Suarez turns 23 in September. He was selected with the 57th pick (also 2nd Round) of the 2014 Draft by the Washington Nationals. Based on this website, Suarez elected to remain in college for his senior season because he wanted to graduate, he wanted to stay at home in Miami, and the Nationals wouldn’t give him more than the approximately $987,000 slot amount.
While I applaud Suarez’ desire to finish his college degree, I have my doubts about his commitment to professional baseball when he walks away from a $987,000 signing bonus. That’s not enough below a million dollars to say, “Hey, I want to pitch in front of my family for another year.”
We’ll see if the Giants play hardball with Suarez this signing period, because he has no leverage at all now due to his age. This could easily be where the money comes from if 1st round pick Phil Bickford wants to match what he could have gotten in 2013 when the Blue Jays made him the 10th overall pick. Amateurs don’t get drafted after age 23 by MLB organizations — they have to play in the Independent-A leagues if they want to keep a major league dream alive.
Anyway, while Suarez was a very good college pitcher in 2015, he didn’t improve much over his junior season. While his strikeout rate was higher, his innings pitched dropped, and his ERA was effectively the same. Over the two year period, he posted a 2.96 ERA with a pitching line of 188.2 innings pitched, 184 hits, seven home runs, and 34 walks allowed and 161 strikeouts.
The only number really impressive there is his home run rate, but he’s clearly a lefty who knows how to pitch, and he did it against elite college competition. I don’t know what his platoon differential was, but if it was good, I could easily see him as a plus major league left-handed relief specialist, a possible successor to Javier Lopez.
Second round draft picks are always a crap shoot, and the Giants have a history in recent years of selecting toolsy players in this area of the draft, who don’t amount to much more than marginal major league players. On paper, Suarez would seem to go against this trend. However, Suarez once had a plus fastball that may have dropped in 2015. He also has a torn labrum (shoulder) in his past that he may or may not have fully recovered from.
Baseball America ranked Suarez as the 73rd best prospect in this year’s draft for what it’s worth. My feeling is that the Giants should, in fact, play hardball with his signing bonus. He’s got no reasonable alternative if he wants a successful professional career.