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Updated thoughts on Philadelphia Phillies rookie Ranger Suarez

MLB: Game One-New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

From the Minor League Ball mailbag:

“You seemed like a big fan of Ranger Suarez when he came up this summer with the Phillies. What do you think now?”——Ian B. from New York

Ranger Suarez came up to the major leagues on July 26th and we wrote this article at the time. Here are some excerpts giving the general gist:

Suarez ranked 15th on the pre-season Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 Prospects for 2018 . . .

He’s jumped further in 2018, posting a 2.76 ERA in 75 innings in Double-A, 54/20 K/BB, followed by a 0.57 ERA in 15.2 innings in Triple-A over three starts, 12/4 K/BB. He’s been mentioned as a potential component in trade rumors but that seems less likely now.

Suarez is listed at 6-1, 180, a left-handed hitter and thrower, age 22. His velocity has increased over the last couple of years and he’s consistently in the low-90s at this point. He’s always had the excellent change-up but his breaking stuff has improved along with the fastball, as he now has a distinct curve and slider combo rather than just a mushy slurve.

His transition to the high minors has gone well and while additional Triple-A innings would probably be a good idea, the fact is we’re looking at a guy with a career 2.16 ERA in 417 minor league frames. Everything is looking up here. Grade-wise, I would move him from the pre-season B-/C+ range firmly into the B category.

Suarez gave up four runs in five innings in his first start on the 26th of July. He was sent back to the minors, then called back up to the Show in mid-August, sent back down again, then came back for September. Overall he started three games and relieved in one, posting a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings, giving up 21 hits with an 11/6 K/BB.

The game-by-game stats are more illuminating: most of the damage came in one game on August 16th (11 hits in four innings). His last two games were better, with three solid relief innings on September 24th, then five strikeouts and just one hit over three innings on the 30th.

This is all a small sample, of course, and not enough to significantly change my opinion either way.

That said, I’d like to see a higher strikeout rate going forward. Grade-wise, my thinking is Grade B or perhaps a B/B- composite grade heading into 2019. What do you guys think?