Jose Suarez, Left-Handed Pitcher
HT : 5'10
WT : 170
DOB : January 3, 1998 (18), Naguanagua, Venezuela
Throws : Left
Bats : Left
School : N/A
Acquired : Signed by Carlos Ramirez, Mauro Zerpa and Lebi Ochoa as International Free Agent, July 3, 2014
Last Year's Ranking : #16
The Los Angeles Angels haven't made many splashes when it comes to international signings, but were able to make a very wise choice in signing a 16-year-old pitcher with an outstanding knowledge of how to fill the zone with a fine arsenal. Jose Suarez helped lift the Angels international spending when he signed in 2014, and put together a strong debut year as a professional. The Angels and Suarez have plenty of time to develop and become a high-ceiling rotation arm, with the key word being "time."
There isn't much flair to Suarez's scouting report, but everything registers in so well, it's impossible to ignore what he projects to become. With a fluid delivery, Suarez finds the strike zone with ease, using all three pitches in his arsenal as a weapon to force outs. The strikeouts may come with time, but he gets the job done with his mentality on the mound, and abilities to pitch to the bat and create weak contact.
Suarez's fastball sits in the high 80's mostly, touching the 90's at rare time. Though the velocity isn't there, the life is. His fastball runs in on left-handed hitters and away from righties, with some bore movement, forcing sinking action. As he fills into his small frame, he should add a little more velocity to this pitch as a low to mid 90's fastball. With added velocity, the ball could do one of two things - flatten or spin more. It all depends on how he develops this pitch and grips the ball, but with his knowledge of pitching, Suarez should be able to work command and movement in to force a sinking fastball at bats, registering a high load of ground balls.
Suarez comes equipped with two off-speed pitches, both he has fine command and a feel for. His curveball became something he threw well too often, and the Angels decided to opt away from him throwing it to develop his changeup and fastball. His curveball has a large sweeping motion to it, with 11-6 action. As for his changeup, he needs some more fine tuning. Though he can throw it for strikes, it's left up a little too often and read out of the hand with some ease. He'll need to work on his arm speed with the changeup, but as mentioned multiple times, he throws it for strikes. The change has some arm-side run to it and sits 10-15 miles per hour slower than his fastball.
The teenager is listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but he may be slighter smaller than listed. He gets on top of the ball, but height may become an issue for a guy who likes to work low in the zone with too simple of a plane. He has plenty of room to grow and will ease into his adult body with time, but for now, Suarez is a small guy who throws strikes. The biggest question is throwing too many strikes and hitting too many bats, which is where his curve and change will help in the future.
Suarez shows experience well beyond his years, but still has just around 70 innings against professional hitters. He has an outstanding knowledge of how to pitch, which is very impressive, and more time on the mound against better hitters will only improve his pitching. The tools are very desirable, but some added flair and in-game experiences will turn him into a possible show case arm for the Angels in the future. Give him a year or two to impress, while ignoring the numbers.
Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for Scout.com
Suarez broke onto the scene last season between the Dominican and Tempe affiliates, posting a season 2.97 ERA, 1.142 WHIP and 1.5 BB/9 rate. Suarez did not allow a run in his first 18 innings of work, and would have held a 1.27 ERA and 0.886 WHIP without a six run outing. While in the DSL, Suarez held bats to a .215 average and .518 OPS.
The teenage southpaw did struggle once coming stateside, allowing 11 runs in 17.2 innings, but did show signs of promise in two of his four outings. In his four starts, two went for six or more runs allowed, while the other went scoreless. He was hit around though, allowing a .916 OPS in his four AZL starts.
A return to Tempe and Rookie Ball should be very evident when it comes to Suarez. He'll face some of the nations top college and prep hitters following the draft, where he can develop his off-speed even better, and find a groove for his fastball. He's still very young, and doesn't have the coaching from the top collegiate programs, but does have professional coaches helping him through the beginning of the Minor League season. Once again, ignore the numbers. This is strictly for development.
Suarez is a long ways away from the Major Leagues, and it shouldn't even be discussed what he will or will not become once he's at that level. He doesn't have the big package of an overpowering fastball, but what he does have it an outstanding knowledge of what he's doing on the mound. The Angels will take a steady route with Suarez in his rise up the minors, and keep him as a starter due to his plus changeup and curveball, while developing everything along the way. As stated, there shouldn't be mention of what he could become, but that's our job, and our estimation is a middle of the rotation arm.
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This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.