In San Francisco, Andrew Susac was regarded as an heir to Buster Posey‘s throne when the Giants decided to save his legs and put him at first permanently. He performed admirably at the plate in his rookie season hitting .273/.326/.466/.792 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS). In 52 games last season, he batted .218/.297/.368/.666. After his numbers clearly took a hit last season, Susac got injured and in stepped Trevor Brown. Brown was called up at the roster expansion and ended the season as the backup catcher. So how did Susac lose the backup job this summer, and where do he and the Giants go from here?
How Susac Lost The Job
Susac didn’t necessarily punt this job away, and there is a good chance he reclaims it by June 1st. But what exactly lost Susac the job?
Susac’s inability to produce last season, combined with a dismal return from injury this spring, cost him the backup catcher’s spot. As mentioned earlier Susac was supposed to be the heir to the Posey throne when he’s moved to first (an inevitability in a few years). Spending a couple years under the tutelage of Posey so he could move to first had always been the underlying plan for the backup catcher behind Posey since 2012. Susac finally brought them their promising catching prospect. When he was called up in 2014 it took him a while to get his first hit, but then put up a solid .273 average in the 35 games he saw time in, many times as a late inning replacement or a pinch hitter. Then came the laid egg of 2015.
Hector Sanchez was starting to play well last season, then continuously picked up injuries. In stepped Susac from Triple-A Sacramento, and he proceeded to bat .217 in nearly double the Plate Appearances from 2014. The run production numbers were quite worrisome as he failed to drive in more than 20 runs. Combined with an on base percentage of less than .300 and slugging percentage less than .400, Susac failed to be as effective off the bench as he was in 2014.
As his season was ended by a late injury, they called up Trevor Brown. Brown nearly equaled Susac’s run contribution, in less than one third of the plate appearances of Susac. Taking into account his numbers in the final month last year, and combining that with his outstanding Spring Training numbers it’s easy to see why Trevor Brown overtook Susac as the backup to start the season. Andrew Susac’s spring was pretty dismal, batting just .217 while his competitor batted .324. Susac will start in Triple-A Sacramento this season, and has a decent shot at getting called up, especially if Trevor Brown has issues in the first few weeks.
What’s Next For Susac?
There are a few scenarios here involving both Trevor Brown and Andrew Susac. The first is: Trevor Brown starts slow, and Susac has a hot start in Triple-A. There is a decent chance of this hapenning. After a couple weeks, if Brown has scuffled and Susac gets off to a hot start in Triple-A, they can easily be flip flopped. Honestly I think this is the most likely scenario. Susac had a .300+ batting average in Triple-A last season, and I would expect him to do the same.
The next scenario is that Trevor Brown produces and stays hot. Regardless of how good Susac is doing in Triple-A, if Trevor Brown is playing well, then they’re keeping him up. I think that if this happens, Susac instantly becomes trade-bait. If the Giants are looking for a small upgrade or bench help in the infield/outfield, Susac easily becomes a trade candidate if Brown solidifies himself as the backup catcher.
I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen from Susac. He’s only been in the organization since 2012, and going into his fourth year, he should see major improvements. However, if Trevor Brown entrenches himself into the backup catcher role, Susac is a top trade candidate come June and July.
The Giants open their season on Monday, April 4th in Milwaukee. First pitch against the Brewers is slated for 11:10 Pacific Time. Tune in to CSN Bay Area for the first pitch. If you can’t be near a TV, tune into KNBR 680.