Tigers Scouting Report #11: Eugenio Suarez

With the Jose Iglesias injury, Eugenio Suarez's name is being thrust into the spotlight as a possible option to be Detroit's starting shortstop in 2014. Is Suarez ready to compete at the big league level now, and what does his ultimate prospect ceiling look like?

Eugenio Suarez

Vitals

Position: Shortstop
Date of Birth: 7/18/1991 (2014 Opening Day Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 5-11/180
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2008
Ranking History: #163 (2010), #172 (2011), #39 (2012), #12 (2013), #11 (2014)

Background: Signed out of Venezuela in 2008, Suarez bounced around on the diamond while in the VSL for two season, playing shortstop, third base, second base, center field, and left field. During that time he hit .288/.375/.374 in 118 games as a 17- and 18-year old. The Tigers brought him stateside in 2011 and he split time between the GCL and Connecticut where he hit a combined .266 in 70 games. The 2012 season served as Suarez's breakout campaign, posting a .288 average with 34 doubles, five triples and six home runs for Low-A West Michigan. Suarez then split the 2013 season between High-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie before being added to the 40-man roster during the offseason.

Performance:

2013 Stats - Hitting
TEAMABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSBAOBPSLG
Lakeland 103173262112142523.311.410.437
Erie 442531122449454698911.253.332.387


Scouting Report

Body: Smaller, thin build; solid strength in upper body; doesn't have bulk (and doesn't need it); wiry strong; typical middle infield frame; solid athlete.

Hit: Approach stands out more than natural bat-to ball ability; knows the strike zone; willing to take borderline pitches early; likes to find pitches to drive; can recognize and handle spin; still gets out front on soft stuff; works the ball to the whole field most of the time; will get a little pull happy and swing through balls in the zone; will always have miss in the game by virtue of working deep counts as well as occasional bat-to-ball weakness; likely ends up below-average hitter with some potential for average to solid-average. Grade – Present 3/Future 4+

Power: Quick enough bat and some bat speed to drive ball to gap; won't overwhelm with power; doesn't lift the ball; line drive stroke that's mostly to the short outfield; power will be well below-average early in career; may reach below-average levels as he enters prime. Grade – 3/4

Speed: Fringe-average down the line; consistent effort leads to consistent times on most balls; will show a little more on longer runs around the bases; speed is not a factor in game; base running instincts are solid but lacks the quick first step or top end speed to be a significant stolen base threat at the MLB level; may slow a half-tick when the body maxes out in the next 3-5 years. Grade – 4+/4

Defense: Has tools for left side; moves well to both sides; reads the ball well off the bat; first step is typically right on; excels at getting balls in the hole; gets off balance on plays up the middle but can get to balls to second base side; needs more consistency in making routine plays; has mental lapses; game is still too fast for him in the field and it has to slow down; can handle SS but may profile more impressively at 2B; very good versatility thanks to feel for game and past experience; lack of impressive range leaves projection more above-average than plus. Grade – 4+/5+

Arm: Strong arm; works on left side; shows plus ability and consistently above-average; can make the throw from deep in the hole; footwork gets sloppy at times and throws can lose line/accuracy; arm should play to plus once he settles into the pace of the game. Grade – 5+/6

Other: Smart kid; hard worker; doesn't try to be flashy; solid all-around ability that plays on the field because of instincts; needs to polish offensive game.

Final Word

Summary: Bat will determine future; has glove to play every day up the middle; glove should play to solid- or above-average; arm should play to plus; has versatility to handle 3B as well as OF; natural feel to hit is absent; has good approach and knowledge of strike zone; recognizes pitches reasonably well; has miss in game; hit may top out at below-average; same with power; speed is not a factor in offensive game.

Risk: Moderate risk; questions about offensive profile; has reached high minors; solid overall profile needs nominal grade jumps to reach projected ceiling.

Projection: If the entire profile maxes out or exceeds the current projections, Suarez could play every day at the MLB level; more likely profile is in the second division or utility range; should head back to Double-A in 2014, but injury to Jose Iglesias may necessitate rash move to MLB or aggressive push to Triple-A to fill holes.

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