Who is Jesus Sucre? The New Mariners Backup Catcher

Matthew Carruth · May 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I dislike putting questions in the headline. So I put the question and the answer. But this is a post that will aim at slightly filling myself in on what Jesus Sucre is likely to bring to the Mariners while he occupies a very unimportant role, as far as roles go on a 25-man Major League roster.

Jesus Sucre is a mediocre hitter.

It’s already been mentioned but this post wouldn’t be complete with rehashing it. Sucre has almost no power to speak of. Over about three full Major League seasons worth of Minor League at bats, Sucre has clubbed 17 home runs. Those numbers aren’t being hindered by the parks he’s called home either. Sucre’s career ISO (slugging percentage – batting average) is .083, which is bad.

I have my own metric, called Pwr+ on StatCorner, that looks at how often a hitter manages a home run on each type (e.g. grounder, liner) and direction (e.g. pulled, opposite way) of batted ball compared to other hitters in his league. Sucre rates about 5-10% below average. That may not seem like much, but it’s a lot especially for a guy who’s mostly been in Double-A. Sucre isn’t going to come up to the Majors, join a vastly stronger group of peers and look better.

Sucre isn’t much for walking either, with a career isolated discipline (on base percentage – batting average) of .037. The guy Sucre’s replacing, Montero, he has an isolated discipline of .041 as a Mariner. So, yeah, walks less often than Montero. That’s not stellar. That’s not even terrestrial. That’s like, subterranean.

But, Jesus Sucre might be a good defensive catcher.

Who knows? It’s difficult to tell with Major League catchers where we all sorts of data. Minor League catchers, and ones who’ve mostly spent time at Double-A and below aren’t coming with lots of data attached.

We do have some numbers on stolen base attempts and successes for Sucre, provided by Baseball-Reference. They look quite good at a career mark of 42% caught stealing. Context is paramount though and BRef doesn’t have the league caught stealing rate to compare against.

I sort of do. My data isn’t nearly as robust, having to rely somewhat on less than ideal data input when it comes to runner movement from MLB gameday, but it’s close to complete and should be a solid enough estimator of percentages. What it shows is that while Sucre has moved through the minors and compiled that 42% kill rate on would-be baseswipers, the other catchers in the leagues he’s been in have hovered around 30%.

That would mark Sucre as quantitatively a good to great catcher at controlling the Minor League running game. That’s not a sure thing and that’s only one part of a catcher’s defensive responsibilities, but it is a clear contrast with Montero and would be a refreshing site to watch, should Sucre even play all that often.

The other important bits of defense, the framing, the blocking pitches, the pitch calling and so on will have to wait and see. I haven’t heard anything negative from what few scouting reports I’ve seen on Sucre, but then again, Sucre isn’t a player I’ve gone out of my way to keep tabs on.

However, as Jeff mentioned previously, there was rumored interest in Sucre being asked about over the winter and no 25-year-old catcher with Sucre’s batting line who’d advanced only to Double-A would be garnering interest unless a team really thought highly of his other attributes. I mean, I assume. Maybe it was a false rumor. Maybe the other team(s) were just crazy pants. Never rule out insanity in explaining life’s quirks. It’s all around you.


11 Responses to “Who is Jesus Sucre? The New Mariners Backup Catcher”

  1. pgreyy on May 23rd, 2013 12:28 pm

    The best part about Jesus Sucre is that at no point in time will we complain about Wedge being unwilling to DH or PH with him just because he’s afraid of using his only back-up catcher in that role.

  2. californiamariner on May 23rd, 2013 12:33 pm

    Too bad we can’t combine the skills of all our catchers named Jesus and make one decent player.

  3. bookbook on May 23rd, 2013 1:02 pm

    A good defensive catcher who can’t hit and can’t run? Granted it’s an improvement, but…

    No wait, this new combo hitter will be able to not hit, with power.

  4. Choo on May 23rd, 2013 1:07 pm

    I spent a week in Peoria this spring with my Dad and brother and we managed to watch a lot of catcher drills on the back fields. Sucre quickly became one our favorites – maybe because we took to calling him Big Sugar – but compared to the other options (mainly Montero & Shoppach) Sucre appeared to be the most competent. Quiet receiver, decent feet, clean release and he didn’t go after pop-ups like he’d been roused from a nap (Montero). Not sure how much pitch-blocking range or technique he has, but he appeared to be more fluid than Shoppach in terms of receiving and blocking close range.

    Sucre didn’t have John Hicks’ all-around athleticism, but few catchers do.

  5. beadyeyes123 on May 23rd, 2013 2:02 pm

    From 2 years of seeing Sucre in spring this is my scouting report on him:

    Solid behind the plate. Stops balls dead in the dirt, has a quick release when throwing out opposing baserunners and seems confident back there. Quiet was a word used by Choo, I would agree 100%.

    Hitting wise, he’s at best comparable to Dioner Navarro where he’ll be a singles hitting catcher. Defensively, I see Jesus Sucre as the second coming of Jose Molina which isn’t a bad thing to be in the MLB if he can hit competently enough to justify a backup role. His defense is pretty solid from all the times I’ve seen him catch.

  6. Choo on May 23rd, 2013 2:14 pm

    If Sucre turns out to be anything like Jose Molina, Sullivan will be crushing haaaard. Still, I do suspect that the alleged interest opposing teams were expressing for Sucre had to do with his ball-receiving skills. Pitch framing is the new “it” skill and it stands to reason that teams at the forefront of this research will attempt to identify and acquire under the radar types near the top of their respective lists.

    Levels of Molina-ness aside, Sucre should be a visual treat for Mariners fans and pitchers alike.

  7. SonOfZavaras on May 23rd, 2013 4:59 pm

    My guess is that Vincent Catricala is the casualty on the 40-man roster to make room for Sucre. He’s been going backwards for a year now and really isn’t impressing anyone at AA-Jackson. And he turns 25 in October.

    It could be Francisco Martinez, but the fact that he’s an outfielder- in a system that doesn’t have many pure outfield prospects in the higher minors- buys him some time, I’m guessing.

  8. Longgeorge1 on May 23rd, 2013 6:24 pm

    I just hope they give the kid a chance to play. He can’t miss much worse than all of the “can’t misses” we have had to be patient with. At least he appears to be able to field his position.

  9. Longgeorge1 on May 23rd, 2013 6:24 pm

    I just hope they give the kid a chance to play. He can’t miss much worse than all of the “can’t misses” we have had to be patient with. At least he appears to be able to field his position.

  10. bookbook on May 23rd, 2013 6:41 pm

    I could dig under a rock and find you a dozen competent CFers who’d outhit Francisco Martinez. I’d be disappointed if Catricala gets cut to bring up a backup catcher.

    It’s important to remember TINSTAAMHP (There is no such thing as a Mariner’s hitting prospect), so the team needs to hold onto any pseudo-bats it has (such as Michael Morse, etc.) on the off-chance that the one they give up on is the one who figures it out. Cat’s a pseudo-bat. Francisco Martinez has chiroptophobia.

  11. Westside guy on May 23rd, 2013 7:22 pm

    I see what you did there, bookbook.

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