Arizona has had two Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year in the past three years. The Yankees got one of them; could the Mariners get the other?
It’s been a hot minute since we last did one of these, but it’s time to get back on the 2022 MLB Draft wagon, as invariably we start scrambling around here when the regular season, the minors, and the upcoming draft all start squishing our schedule in June. To refresh your memory, the Mariners hold pick #21 in this year’s first round, right behind the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves, a phrase that has not gotten any more fun since the last time I typed it. In the first installment of this series we profiled Cam Collier, who graduated high school early to attend junior college in order to be part of this year’s draft class. We’re going to stick to the college ranks again this time out; this year’s draft is especially deep with college players, many of whom will be available later in the first round.
In a deep year for collegians across the board, one of MLB’s thinnest positions—catcher—is equally deep. Of the trio of college catchers predicted to go in the first round—Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada, Mississippi State’s Logan Tanner, and Arizona’s Daniel Susac—both Tanner and Susac could be around when the Mariners make their selection at 21. MLB Pipeline has Parada closer to the top 10, although FanGraphs disagrees, putting Parada well behind the other two and vaulting Tanner closer to the top 10. We’ll take a look at all of them over the coming weeks, but for familiarity’s sake, we’ll start out with University of Arizona’s Susac, from right here in the Pac-12.
If the idea of a catcher named Susac stirs something in your memory banks, you’re probably thinking of Daniel’s older brother Andrew, a journeyman catcher who played parts of six seasons in MLB. Daniel is ten years younger and several inches taller than his brother, making him big for a catcher (his height is listed anywhere from 6’3” – 6’5”). If you follow the draft closely, you might remember Daniel himself, though, as he was active on the showcase circuit as a high schooler in 2020 and listed among MLB’s Top 100 draft prospects, although he went undrafted.
After a coaching change at Oregon State, Susac withdrew his commitment and instead opted for Arizona, where he immediately made an impact as the Wildcats’ everyday catcher, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors (the second Wildcat to win the award in three years; Austin Wells, the Yankees’ first rounder in 2020, took home the award in 2019). Susac ripped through his first year of collegiate ball, posting a slash line of .335/.392/.591, but stood out for his work behind the plate, as well. His contributions helped drive Arizona back to the College World Series for the first time in five years, and his list of awards and honors earned in that first year is lengthier than the crawler at the beginning of Star Wars.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) June 3, 2021
Despite his larger frame, Susac remains athletic and mobile behind the dish; he reads and reacts to situations quickly, and uses his strong throwing arm to cut down would-be base stealers or runners getting a little greedy in trying to take an extra base.
Wildcat C Daniel Susac (@danielsusac10) with the nice catch and throw to get Lampe trying to steal second. Quick release from the freshman backstop @PGCollegeBall @ArizonaBaseball pic.twitter.com/DiHGjaXdN8
— Perfect Game Four Corners (@PG_FourCorners) April 4, 2021
Formerly a switch-hitter, Susac now focuses on hitting from the right side. Susac’s prodigious raw power can sometimes camouflage what a good natural hitter he is. He allows the ball to travel into the zone and doesn’t sell out for power, letting his natural strength impact the ball all over the field. He can as easily hook a ball over the left field fence for a homer as he can shoot a double into the right-field gap.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 21, 2021
Sound up for this one:
It’s 11:18 and Daniel Susac isn’t ready to go home yet.
Arizona ties it at 16-16 in the 10th double pic.twitter.com/6wwiU7jBMg
— Matt Moreno (@MattGOAZCATS) May 15, 2021
I usually bandwagon whichever Pac-12 school makes it to the College World Series (#BackThePac) anyway, but this year will be rooting for Susac and the Wildcats to return to Omaha and make some noise. Just…not so much noise that it knocks him out of the Mariners’ orbit with pick #21.