Coming into the 2017 season, Ranger Suarez was flying well below the prospect radar. Signed out of Venezuela in 2012, Suarez spent 3 seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League, compiling 102.2 IP with an insane 4 BB to 95 strikeouts. He made his U.S. debut in 2015 in the GCL, tossing only 27.2 IP but posting a stellar 0.65 ERA with 4 BB and 20 strike outs.
Scouting reports on the 6’1 Suarez in 2015 raved about his control and ability to command the zone but were soured on his below average fastball. As a teenager, Suarez sat at 88-90 mph but has added some sizzle to the fastball as he has matured. After a successful stint in the New York Penn League in 2016, Suarez and his new-found fastball have splashed onto the prospect scene. He dominated the Sally league to the tune of a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts covering 85 IP and 90 K’s (His Lakewood teammate, Sixto Sanchez has posted 59 K in 61.1 IP and a 2.64 ERA). Suarez has excelled at eliciting soft contact. His BABIP at Lakewood was a stellar .233 to go along with a 2.29 GB/FB ratio.
In addition to upping his velocity, Suarez uses a stellar change up, possibly the best in the Phillies’ system, and an above average slider. His change up averages 83-85 mph and generates a lot of ground balls. In fact, Suarez has only allowed 13 HR in his entire pro career.
The Phillies promoted Suarez to Clearwater on July 4, 2017 and Suarez hasn’t missed a beat. In his first 2 starts in the FSL, Suarez faced the Dunedin Blue Jays and over the course of 10 IP, struck out 17 batters. I saw him in person on July 24 against the Bradenton Marauders. Suarez’s fastball topped out at 94 mph. There was a drop in velocity going into the 5th and 6th innings, his fastball averaging 91-92. He was still able to hit 94 when he needed to. Suarez struggled with his command. He routinely left balls up in the zone and was hit hard. He tossed 5.1 IP, gave up 10 hits, 4 ER, 3 BB, and only 1K. Of his 85 pitches, 51 were strikes.
Despite the poor performance, I like Suarez and what he brings to the mound. In the newest mid-season rankings, MLB.com ranked him 16th in the organization.