Background: The switch-hitting third baseman was born in San Antonio, TX and attended the University of Texas for two years before being drafted by the Yankees in 2007. Previously, he was drafted by the Angels in the 21st round of the 2005 draft. He had a strong commit to UT, so would have required a well-above slot bonus to sign out of high school.
As a draft-eligible sophomore, he had leverage in his negotiations with the Yankees, and ended up signing for a hefty bonus of $1.3 million, a record for a fourth round pick. Suttle is a type 1 diabetic, so that is a big hurdle he has had to overcome to get this far.
Injuries: Bradley Suttle missed the entire 2009 season with shoulder injuries. Immediately after the 2008 season, he had labrum surgery, and was expected to miss some of 2009, but get some action as a designated hitter. Then, in June of 2009, he had another surgery on the same shoulder.
Arm strength is important for Suttle over at third base, so it remains to be seen whether he'll recover fully from his surgeries. With no further setbacks, he's on track to be available at the start of the 2010 season.
Hitting: Entering the 2007 draft, scouts raved about Suttle's hitting ability. Baseball America was especially impressed, naming him the best pure college hitter available in the draft. He struggled with the transition to a wooden bat in the Hawaii Winter League, so the Yankees revamped his swing prior to the '08 season. Scouts preferred his swing from the left side of the plate, and that held up through his first professional season. He had an OPS of .864 against righties and .647 versus lefties in Charleston over the 2008 season.
While Suttle only hit eleven home runs, he does have quite a bit of power potential. Right now, his line drive swing doesn't get much lift and results in lots of doubles. As he continues to mature as a hitter, we can expect to see more power from him.
Defense: When Suttle was drafted, there were questions about whether or not he would be able to stick at third base. After a complete season in the South Atlantic League, where he was voted the best defensive third baseman, those questions were largely quelled.
The numbers backed this assessment up as well, as TotalZone rated Suttle as +21 runs per 150 games played. I had heard he had soft hands and an accurate arm, but he didn't have great lateral movement. The award and these numbers suggest that maybe his range is pretty good.
Progress: Up until his injury, Suttle had showed a very good amount of progress. Yankee coaches and staff had been impressed with his improvements, and his stock was steadily rising. Baseball America's John Manuel rated Suttle the Yankees' 10th best prospect, directly following Mark Melancon. His injuries have halted his progress, but if he has a strong season, he could jump right back into the Yankees' top 10 prospects.
2010 Outlook: If Suttle's shoulder is back to complete health, he can really break out in 2010. He had a successful season in 2008 while battling groin and shoulder injuries, so it will be interesting to see what he can do if he's healthy. He should start the season in Tampa as a 24-year-old. Suttle will be a little old for the level, so it will be very interesting to keep an eye on him and see where he performs.
I'll be counting down the top 30 Yankees prospects with in-depth profiles like this one of each guy. I'll probably only be doing half of them, so you'll have to stop by my blog at Pending Pinstripes to see the ones done by the other writers.
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