Jose Suarez was a bit of an underappreciated athlete when the LA Angels signed him out of Venezuela in 2014. It wasn’t that he didn’t look good, in fact a lot of the reasons why the Angels brought him on was because he looked great in certain regards.
A great head for pitching while still in his teenage years and a natural ability to be fine with his pitches excited the LA Angels enough to trust in his development through the system. Although he doesn’t have the physical projectability (standing at 5’10) of a big-time starter what he does have is mental prowess and pitchability, and for that reason he’s developed into one of the more projectable pitchers in the Angels organization.
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Jose Suarez doesn’t throw hard, in fact his fastball ranges in the 92-93 mph. While that seems like a big deal, what’s truly the bigger deal is his ability to locate hitters to death with his finely tuned accuracy. He can zip and zoom his fastball all over the strike-zone, and despite it being in the lower-rungs of velocity he’s still more than capable of generating the groundball out. What he’s even more capable of is generating the strikeout.
Jose Suarez (LHP)
Signed July 3rd 2014- Naguanagua, Venezuela
Suarez has always been a heavy strike-out guy with the Angels. In 2016 he knocked out 53 hitters in 44.2 IP while walking only 14 and in 2017 he improved to 90 K’s and 22 BB’s in 68.2 IP. He’s managed to maintain a K/9 rate over 10 from 2016 on while maintaining a sub 3 BB/9 rate (aside from his 3.4 rate in 2018). A lot of his upside comes from his ability to out-think hitters, and subsequently out-pitch them. There was a lot of curiosity as to whether he’d be able to maintain his strike-out ability in the higher level of the MiLB (most pundits thought no), yet 2018 saw him improve his ability by popping 142 hitters in 117 IP.
Sure his K rate may have went down from 11.8 in 2017 to 10.9 in 2018, but that isn’t as important as is his maintenance of that ability all the way through Triple A. 2018 saw Suarez advance from Class A Advanced all the way to Triple A, which is incredible seeing as how he hadn’t pitched a single inning above Low A Ball prior to 2018. This past season didn’t just show him maintaining everything that makes him good, his pitchability and dominant pitching IQ, this past season showed him flourish.
What makes him so good on the mound is his three-pronged attack (Fastball, Curveball, Changeup) with all three pitches being advanced. His change-up is noted as his A+ pitch, and the way it makes hitters look silly at the plate it’s obvious this is a pitch that can devastate just as easily in the big leagues. Likewise, his curveball is a pitch he can reliable put in the zone and generate bad swings. Prior to 2018 he had some work to do in order to bring his curveball up to snuff with the rest of his stuff, but after his 2018 improvements it’s clear he’s living up to his potential. Again, what offers confidence to his projectability is the IQ that goes behind his pitching. It’s not just that he has good stuff, he has the head on his shoulders to utilize it to the best of its quality.
Right now Jose Suarez is doing everything he needs to be successful as a Big Leaguer. Many didn’t expect him to rise through the ranks this quickly and with his 2018 performance he’s knocking pretty hard on the Big League door. There is some need for greater velocity, especially with his fastball, but only an uptick in ability to show he can continue to grow is mostly what’s needed to see him achieving true success. He can work hitters at the plate pretty well, but with a little extra velocity he would be able to really put the pound on hitters.
Jose Suarez can easily settle into the back-end of a rotation granted he stay within his pitchability and not lose himself in wanting to incessantly pound the zone at higher levels. So far things look great for Suarez, without question we’re going to be seeing him in the Majors extremely soon.
Developmental Needs: Velocity, Strength Training, Patience
Best Tools: Pitching IQ, Delivery, Repertoire, Consistency, Locating Pitches
MLB ETA: 2019