Giants prospect Susac shows progress at catcher
Backstop could be on track to back up Posey with strong defense, offensive production
The San Francisco Giants are fortunate to have Buster Posey, an All-Star-quality catcher. It's a luxury to have a catcher who can hit and play solid defense.
Waiting in the wings to assist with the Giants' catching duties is 6-foot-2, 210-pound Andrew Susac. Like Posey, Susac can hit and play solid defense.
The right-handed-hitting Susac played baseball at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif. Susac was good enough to be selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Instead of signing with the Phillies, Susac went to Oregon State University, where he distinguished himself as a top catching prospect prior to the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He hit .367 that season.
While at Oregon State, Susac lost some playing time with a broken hamate bone in his wrist. Because he was 21 years old after his sophomore season, Susac was eligible for the First-Year Player Draft In June. The Giants selected him in the second round.
The Giants began Susac at Class A Advanced San Jose in the California League. He hit .244 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs, and he struck out 100 times in 426 plate appearances.
This past season, Susac advanced to Double-A Richmond in the Eastern League. Only 23, he showed improvement in most phases of his game. Susac hit .256 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs. He had only 310 plate appearances due to missing time with a shoulder impingement. He struck out 68 times.
Susac improved defensively as well, significantly cutting down his errors.
I saw Susac extensively in the recently concluded Arizona Fall League. Along with the Texas Rangers' Jorge Alfaro and the San Diego Padres' Austin Hedges, Susac was among the most impressive catchers in the league.
Susac hit .360 with two homers and seven RBIs in the Fall League. He played in 17 games and had 50 at-bats. Susac struck out only 11 times while registering an impressive 16 walks. That's significant because of his previous difficulty making consistent contact.
Susac has shown a knack for using the entire field with a fairly easy, uncomplicated swing. He has some pop in his bat. One of Susac's Fall League home runs was a memorable shot to the opposite field that cleared the fence with plenty of room to spare.
While Susac can deliver offensively, it is his work behind the plate that caught the attention of scouts. First and foremost, he showed good footwork and sound mechanics behind the plate.
In the Fall League, Susac shifted his feet extremely well on blocking balls. He got his entire body in front of pitches in the dirt and saved his pitchers from racking up wild pitches.
Susac's arm is strong and accurate. He repeatedly made throws with good carry to second base. In his two Minor League seasons, Susac has thrown out 35 percent of the players trying to steal. That's an exceptionally good rate, especially for a catcher with little experience.
Susac handled the pitching staff well and projects as a leader on the field.
Susac still has some development work to do before he is a finished Major League-ready catcher. He has to continue to refine his hitting trigger and cut down his errors while repeating the good mechanics he showed in Arizona.
Eventually, Susac can spell Posey as an effective backup and ultimately become a starting catcher with both offensive and defensive talent.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.