The 2012 season has cleared up the picture regarding the future of the shortstop position in Detroit. Jhonny Peralta may still be an above-average defensive shortstop (albeit with no range) but his miserable season at the plate (.239/.305/.384/.689, 13 HR and 63 RBI in 531 AB) might result in a change coming sooner than expected.
“Who’s available?” Well that’s part of the problem. There is a dearth of good shortstops on the market. Stephen Drew and Jimmy Rollins leap to mind, but Drew can’t hit and Rollins is getting old and has attitude issues. So Peralta may very well come back in 2013.
So we’ve established that the shortstop of the future is in-house. May I present to you Eugenio Suarez.
Suarez is a 6’0’’, 180 pound, 21 year-old Venezuelan who played his 2012 season with Single-A West Michigan. He had an excellent season there, hitting .288/.380/.409/.789 in 135 games. He’s not a power threat (only 6 homers in 511 at-bats) but he has doubles power already (he roped 34 of them) and is pretty fast as well, recording 5 triples and 21 steals. He displayed good discipline, working out 65 walks. Most importantly perhaps, he became a plus defender this season, recording a .971 fielding percentage, up from .923 in 2011 (which he split with the GCL Tigers and Connecticut).
At this point there are really only two drawbacks to Suarez: his size and his strikeouts. He’ll need to put on weight if he’s going to play everyday. He struck out 116 times in 511 at-bats in A-ball and that’s obviously going to need to come down. But if he puts on some weight and reduces his strikeouts, he could be a Tiger by 2014.