Jesus Sucre has been a pleasant surprise for the Baltimore Orioles.
To be honest, I was going to find any way possible to write about Jesus Sucre. The Baltimore Orioles catcher went from being stuck in Venezuela with visa issues and arriving to camp much later than his teammates, to becoming a leader on the field for this young roster.
His emotion behind the plate is fun to watch and he’s clearly a student of the game. Frustrations were high when Chance Sisco was sent to the minor leagues after a hot start to spring training, but he’s off to a 1-18 with seven strikeouts start to the year with the Norfolk Tides. The Tides have faced a one elite pitching prospect after another through their first week, but that doesn’t excuse Sisco’s early performance. Choosing to go with Sucre over Sisco has been the right choice, up to this point.
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Despite me wanting to find any reason possible to write about Sucre, I didn’t have to look hard to find an eye-popping number. It’s not his .226 average or .273 on-base percentage. It’s obviously not his .531 OPS or one total extra-base hit in 31 at-bats. It’s all about his ability to put the ball in play.
Sucre is currently sporting a 9.7% whiff rate on pitches he’s seen in 2019. The 30-year-old catcher sports a career whiff rate that falls well below league-average, but single digits is highly impressive. He’s making contact on 98% of pitches he swings at in the strike zone and swinging at the first pitch just 6% of the time.
Throw Jesus Sucre a strike and he won’t miss it. His swinging strike rate is 3.7%, which is good for ninth best in baseball, among hitters with at least 30 plate appearances. He’s a fraction of a percentage point behind the likes of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in this category. Good things happen when you put the ball in play, something Sucre is pretty good at.
Are there any numbers that are surprising to you? Positive numbers only, please. We’re trying to keep our minds off a certain first baseman and his lack of production at the plate.