Potential Player of Interest: Andrew Susac
Should the Rays and Giants match up on a Ben Zobrist trade, one player would be a logical inclusion.
If there is a such thing as a blocked prospect, then Giants catcher Andrew Susac might be it. He’s stuck behind one of the game’s best and most decorated backstops, and lacks the athleticism to play elsewhere on the diamond. The Giants have publicly stated Susac could enter the season as their backup catcher but, given the holes on their roster and the lack of free-agent talent remaining at those positions, keeping Susac as a reserve seems like an inefficient use of resources.
Though Susac isn’t Buster Posey Jr.—at least not talent-wise, since they do share mannerisms—and it’s unclear whether the Rays have interest in acquiring him, he would give the Rays an intriguing young backstop to pair with Rene Rivera. Let’s take a look at what he offers, beginning with his defense.
Susac’s defining trait behind the plate is his ability to aid in controlling the running game. His arm is strong and his release is quick, leading to consistently better-than-average pop times. That might sound off given that the Royals swiped seven bases in seven attempts against Susac last August, yet revisit that game and you’ll find that Tim Lincecum, not Susac, is responsible for much of the damage. Lincecum seldom gave his backstop a chance, and at one point Susac had to attempt a throw from the squat—he almost nabbed the runner anyway.
Alas, some aspects of Susac’s defensive game remain a work in progress. While he earns praise for his intangibles, his receiving needs improving. He allowed a passed ball or wild pitch once every 16 innings during his big-league stint; Jose Molina, often derided for his poor net-minding efforts, allowed one every 19 innings. Additionally, during a video review of his framing skills, Susac showed a tendency to turn his wrist when he caught pitches to his glove side, even ones located near or to his intended target; that’s an act that the best framers, like Rivera, tend to avoid.
The good news for Susac is he should contribute at the plate. The bad news is there’s disagreement on just how much he’ll add. There’s no questioning Susac’s mature approach or raw power to all fields (more than half his 11 extra-base hits went to right or right-center field). However, there is some skepticism about his hit tool playing up enough for his secondary skills to flourish. Combine his swing-and-miss tendencies with his willingness to work deep counts, and you’re left with a recipe for strikeouts.
Overall, Susac profiles as a potential everyday starter behind the plate, complete with an average (or better) bat and glove. He has flaws he’ll need to continue to work on, but that’s true of most soon-to-be 25-year-old catchers. Just how the Rays feel about his ability to make those adjustments could determine whether he’s part of a Zobrist trade.