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2016 Red Reports: Eugenio Suarez

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Looking to build on a solid 2015 season.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fast Facts:

Nascency: July 18, 1991 in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela.  There's a really long list of MLB players from Venezuela, though I don't trust Baseball Almanac's definition of "Active" at all (unless it means active in any professional baseball league, or something, maybe).

Physiology: 5'11", 180 lbs. Bats/Throws R/R.

Contract: Just over one year of MLB service time; pre-arbitration, essentially MLB minimum (details unavailable).

Notes: Suarez started the season in AAA, as Zack Cozart was the incumbent SS and was having a career season.  However, Cozart's season-ending injury accelerated the timetable for Suarez's appearance with the big club, and Suarez did not disappoint - at least with the bat.  A .760 OPS from a SS in a league where the average SS gives .673 definitely plays, even if the defense is a work in progress.

The defense however does need some work.  He simply committed too many errors last year.  However, Suarez has the athleticism and appears to have the instincts necessary to play SS decently, if not even better than that.   Among SS in the field for at least 3,000 PAs last year, Suarez was league average at converting fielded balls into outs.  Considering that he was well above average in committing errors, that means he got to more balls than average.  In fact his range factor was 8th in MLB among SS with 800+ innings.

If it is consistent reps he needs to clear that aspect of his defense up, well, bad news: Suarez is slated to play primarily 3B, at least to begin 2016.  The acquisition of Jose Peraza muddies the picture as to whether Suarez would move back to SS even if and when Cozart is moved.  Also, the Phillips situation does as well, since Peraza (or Suarez) might take 2B if BP is moved/injured.  Basically, I have no idea if SS is still in Suarez's future, and it probably depends on a lot of different factors outside of his control.  I hope he gets a shot, because his bat plays very well there.

Projections:

System G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
Depth Charts 117 490 14 52 54 6 6.7% 22.5% .158 .254 .311 .412 95 -0.5 -3.2 2.7 1.6
Steamer 119 491 14 49 55 7 6.8% 21.2% .156 .254 .311 .410 94 -0.3 -3.5 5.6 1.8
ZiPS 149 607 18 68 65 8 6.6% 23.9% .161 .254 .311 .415 96 -1.0 -3.8 3.7 2.0
Fans 137 574 17 66 73 9 7.3% 22.6% .163 .272 .334 .435 109 -0.1 6 -0.5 2.5

The projection systems have a nearly absurd level of agreement on Suarez's 2016 season.  I like the fans' prognostication.

Pitchf/x:

Suarez pitchfx

Suarez typically is pitched down and away (as most hitters are before an extensive scouting report gets out to the league about their specific weaknesses and strengths).  Suarez is a good offspeed hitter with average contact rates and above average power against breaking balls and other offspeed pitches.  He also has average power against fastballs, but is below average at making contact against them.  If you're going to try to beat Suarez by getting him to chase offspeed pitches outside the zone, you'd better make sure you miss out of the zone and not in.

2016 Outlook:

Suarez seems like a good bet to be about league average with the bat, and there is upside for better than that.  Suarez showed much more of a willingness to take walks in the minors and in his half season in Detroit than he did in his debut season with Cincinnati.  If that aspect of his game rebounds, then he won't need a .340 BABIP to repeat last season's success or even build on it.  The questions are primarily about his defense.  Some (including the Reds?) think his defense is stretched at SS but that his defensive strengths will pay nicely at 3B.  However, he's very rarely played there before even in his minor league career.  He has the athleticism to play just about anywhere on the diamond, so perhaps moving to a position with fewer moving parts on any given play will help reduce the mental errors on defense.

Suarez is going to play every day and he's going to hit in the heart of the order somewhere.  He's one of the more important pieces for the Reds in 2016 and in their future plans.  This will be his first full-time MLB season, so hopefully he grasps that opportunity and provides great reason to be optimistic about where this reboot is headed.