In the first round, the Nats took a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery. In the second round, the Nats took a pitcher who had labrum surgery in 2012. It’s easy to get drawn in by the narrative, “the Nats take all of the injured pitchers,” but you’re smarter than that!
Yes, Andrew Suarez had labrum surgery in 2012. That was also 2 years ago, and he has since regained his velocity and feel for pitches. Labrum injuries are scary (as we’ve seen with Matt Purke), but it seems that the problem for pitchers who have labrum issues is getting their velocity and pitches back to form. For that reason, I’m not buying into Suarez as an injury reclamation type; there still is some reason to be concerned, but he’s already gotten over the biggest hurdle.
Now that I’ve gotten off of my soapbox, what kind of pitcher is Suarez? He’s a lefty from Miami who throws hard. That combination hasn’t worked out for the Nats in recent years, has it? For some odd reason, Suarez noted that Gio Gonzalez was his role model in a 2011 interview with JaysProspects.com after being drafted in the 9th round.
Suarez gained 6-8 mph on his fastball between 2013 and 2014, generally sitting in the 91-94 range that he pitched in before labrum surgery, but also peaking at 96 at times. He pairs it with a dirty slider that sits around 82-85 and a changeup that is labeled as average now, but could become an above average pitch. While Suarez’ velocity has been marked as somewehat erratic in 2014, he has thrown strikes with great consistency, with a miniscule 1.23 BB/9 to go with a respectable 7.14 K/9. A guy with a 5.8 K/BB rate and the ability to add more K’s? Yes please. Suarez could stand to improve his command, as he’s been surprisingly hittable given his good stuff and control.
I feel like Suarez provides the appropriate level of risk and upside that you like in your 2nd round picks, and am happy with his selection. He has a pretty high floor as a pitcher, with most of the risk being potential injuries. Suarez has a little bit of leverage with another year of eligibility remaining (and potentially 2, as he might be able to achieve a medical redshirt for his 2 and 1/3 innings pitched freshman season), but he still seems to be likely to sign given his past injuries.