Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top 15 Pitchers: #14 Albert Suarez

Albert Suarez
6'2" 185 lbs DOB: 10/8/89
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2008: Princeton
Acquired: Signed in 2006(Venezuela)

With how good Matt Moore was in Princeton in 2008, it's easy to see how a guy like Albert Suarez could get overshadowed. However, he's gotten plenty of love from prospect outlets, including the #12 spot on BaseballAmerica's top 30* and the #20 spot on John Sickels' rankings.

2008 was Suarez's first season state-side after a year at the Rays Venezuelan academy, so there's not much of a statistical or scouting track record on him. BA named him the #9 prospect in the Appalachian League after 2008, noting his easy 93-94 fastball velocity and above-average curveball potential. John Sickels liked his sinker(he had a 1.65 GO/AO with the P-Rays) but says his breaking stuff needs work.

The thing that jumped out to me about Suarez was his control: In 43.2 innings(9 starts, 11 total apperances), Suarez only walked 7 guys, which helped result in an impressive 5.29 K/BB rate. He "only" struck out 37 in his almost 44 innings, which is a bit low for a guy you'd call a top prospect. Still, if he can maintain that rate while still getting groundballs as he moves up, then it's tough to complain.

From all accounts, Suarez has adjusted well to the new culture in the States and has a mature approach on the mound. So even with limited experience, I think the Rays will bump him up to Hudson Valley for 2009. He's not going to be able to get by on his fastball, so he'll have to improve his breaking ball and also show that he can locate it consistently.

*I was going to do a full post on this, but the BA top 30 this year is perplexing, to say the least. Suarez at 12 seems really high, although I guess they're talking to somebody who's pumping him up. The real head-scratcher for me is Mayobanex Acosta at 25. Really, a 20-year old catcher with a .688 OPS in two seasons at Princeton made the list? I know rookie stats are to be taken with a grain of salt, but the fact he even repeated Princeton in his age-20 season tells me something. And Shawn O'Malley at 30 while Justin Ruggiano is our 31st prospect? Ruggiano could never play in a major-league game again and he'll still have had a better ML career than O'Malley when things are said and done. Maybe I'm wrong and O'Malley's tools will click, but... don't hold your breath.

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