ALTOONA, Pa. – A new batting stance at the plate has seemed to unlock a new world of possibilities for Jerrick Suiter.

The former TCU Horned Frog didn’t have numbers in college that would jump out at you, especially for being listed at 6′ 4″ and 235 pounds on his college website. Suiter failed to hit a single home run in his college career, and he finished his time at TCU with a .262 average and .658 OPS. The average was fine, but the lack of extra base hits and an OPS in the mid-.600s doesn’t scream draftee.

There seemed to be a bunch of other intangibles that led the Pirates to Suiter, though. He was a three sport athlete out of high school and enrolled at TCU with the hopes of playing football and baseball. He went through his freshman year of summer workouts for the football team, playing defensive end, but he ended up getting hurt in the process. It was time for him to make a decision for his future.

“Honestly, I went through summer workouts, got done with two-a-days, and ended up getting hurt,” Suiter said. “My baseball coach and I decided to stick with baseball. I knew that baseball was my ticket. I loved football, and it was a lot of fun playing, but I knew in the long run that baseball was going to be my thing.”

Suiter was one of those freakishly athletic people through high school and college. He said that he wished he could have played basketball in college but “being a 6′ 4″ center doesn’t get you very far”. He was a standout football player in high school. His high school football coach even went as far to say that “he could probably do anything he want”, and that he “doesn’t know of a better three-sport athlete.”

He pitched some during his freshman season for the Horned Frogs, but his real potential was at the plate. The problem through the early parts of his baseball career was that, for a guy as large and physically gifted as he was, the power numbers weren’t showing up. In college, Suiter failed to hit a single home run.

“Go watch the college swing,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “Uppercut, behind, late. He was out in front with a big stride. He turned into a 5′ 10″ hitter, and swung like a football player.”

Even with his flaws, the Pirates saw enough with Suiter, including his size, athleticism, and ability to make contact, to take him in the 26th round of the MLB Draft in 2014. There were definitely signs of progress through his first two and a half years as a professional, as Suiter was still hitting for a decent average; however, things just weren’t moving along like the Pirates hoped they would.

That’s where the change comes in. It seems simple… he stood up more in his batting stance.

“I was Bagwell-esque before, but now I’m standing up in my stance a whole lot more than I ever was,” Suiter said. “I’m seeing the ball better and putting the barrel on the ball more. It’s going to lead to chances for more hits and a higher slugging percentage, as well.”

He went on to say that the change has allowed him to create more power, even though he has toned his effort level down in his swing.

“I’ve always been a max effort at all times kind of guy,” Suiter said, “but I’ve toned it down and controlled the barrel more. It’s worked for me.”

Jerrick Suiter went from a “bagwell-esque” stance to being more upright. Photo Credits: Tim Williams and Sean McCool

Combined with self-proclaimed additional patience and a confident two-strike approach (similar to that of Edwin Espinal), everything has worked out over the past two months for Suiter. Since the start of June, Suiter had a .311 batting average and .930 OPS. That includes eight home runs and 12 doubles.

Over that span, Suiter was easily one of the best hitters in the Pirates organization and the Eastern League.

“Honestly, it’s a game of stretches,” Suiter said. “My confidence is high right now, but it could change at the flip of a dime. I try to take it day by day, and each plate appearance is the same thing.”

All things considered, Suiter has been the Curve’s best and most consistent hitter this season. Altogether for the season with Altoona, he has a .287 average and an .824 OPS.

“The guy is a good hitter,” his manager Michael Ryan said. “I saw him hit well last year at times, very similar to what he’s doing right now. He’s just doing it for a longer period of time. He’s earning his playing time every night.”

Ryan said that Suiter has been working extremely hard in the cage, trying to figure out how to best use his body to his advantage at the plate. Suiter has been diligent in working with his hitting coach Kevin Riggs on staying on his legs more and having good balance in his swing, allowing him to stay more towards the middle of the field in his approach.

“After making the change with Riggs, things really turned around for me,” Suiter said. “I’m being patient and trying to get my pitch every at-bat. It’s been paying off for me so far.”

Best of all, the power has shown up, too. Just a few nights ago, Suiter had one of the hardest hit home runs I’ve seen while covering games in Altoona over the last three years. He went to straight away center field and hit it on a line about 420 feet. In total, he has eight home runs so far this season, one short of his career total entering the 2017 campaign.

Standing up taller in his stance has allowed him to create more leverage and extend better. He says that, ultimately, it’s all about finding the barrel of the bat more often.

“It’s in the barrel control,” Suiter said. “This whole time, I thought I was in my legs while in a wide stance. I feel more in my legs now, and I’m using it in my swing.”

Not only home runs, he’s using the entire field and finding gaps, becoming a very well-rounded hitter.

“Power comes later in your career,” Michael Ryan said when asked about Suiter’s recent surge. “You learn how to use your legs better. We look at doubles as an organization; he had a bunch of doubles last year, so you know that the power is going to play later. It’s just a matter of approach and mechanics. You get a good pitch to do it, and right now it is working for him. When he has an indication that something isn’t going well, he can fix it quickly, too.”

Now, with the loss of Jordan Luplow and Edwin Espinal to Triple-A, as well as the hand injury to Logan Hill, there is a need for Suiter to take the reins as the power hitting force in the Curve lineup.

“You have to have some sort of power source in the lineup, and he’s going to be the guy,” Ryan said.

The challenge now is for Suiter to continue what he has done through the summer months. Two months is not a small sample size; however, he needs to be able to finish strong for the possibility of moving up to Triple-A next season. If the bat can stay where it is, as well as continued improvement in the outfield where he has been playing every day, Suiter will open some more eyes.

“I’ve worked my butt off,” he said. “This has been my goal since I was a little kid — to play in the big leagues.”

Looking at prospect rankings, you won’t typically find Jerrick Suiter’s name. I asked Michael Ryan what Suiter needs to do to climb the charts and get to the next level. His answer was intriguing.

“What’s he missing? Baseball America to write about him. It’s because of where he was drafted, how much money he got, all these things that these magazines look for. If he’s a top five pick, Jerrick Suiter is being talked about constantly. It’s a tribute to him for people to talk about him right now. He’s put himself on the map. You earn what you get and the press that you deserve. That’s what he’s doing.”

If he keeps hitting the way he has been this summer, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Jerrick Suiter in the future.

IMPORTANT: You will need to update your password after the switch to the new server in order to log in and comment. Go to the Password Reset Page to change your password.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Good article. I like your reading your articles to learn about players, their skills and body types, and then following how they develop. I have kids who play baseball and I coach. When I read your site I notice players who have similar issues to my kids or kids I coach who have similar styles or sizes, and then bring that over to coaching. When you write it is probably not your goal to help little league coaches like me to learn the game and get ideas – but that is something I like about your website.

    Specific to this article – how did Bagwell get so much power if a crouched stance diminishes power? Same question for Kris Bryant. I read an article (here is the link – http://m.mlb.com/news/article/189320918/kris-bryant-tweaked-stance-to-unleash-power/) that said Bryant modified his stance to bend his legs and get wider to generate more power. This article says the opposite for Suiter – that when he stood up he got more power. Part of the answer must be that things depend for each player – but what should I be getting big, strong and athletic kids to do – wide stance and bent legs or stand tall?

    • If you look at film of all the old power hitters they mostly all stood relatively tall. The guys who crouched were contact hitters like Pete Rose.

    • Great question…I believe your answer lies in the difference between a rotational and linear swing.

      http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/story/kris-bryant-chicago-cubs-swing-spring-training-prospect-031615

      Bryant, and most modern power hitters, have rotational swings. Crouching allows them to engage the bigger leg muscles better and torque around a solid base.

      Linear swings are more straight to the ball and contact oriented. Starting from a narrower base allows for more of a stride needed to provide momentum for power.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMgF6WSwAdQ

      • Thanks for the post. Youtube has so many good things like that.

        Pirate Prospects folks – Any chance you can get and post a few videos of Suitor’s swing? Or is it out there and I just haven’t found it? Youtube has a ton of videos of Kris Bryant’s swing and analysis to explain his more crouched approach. There is one of him and Will Craig being analyzed at the same time and pointing out the similarities that is pretty neat. But I haven’t really looked for or seen videos of swing analysis of players who start in the position Suitor is in for the photo you have in the article.

    • Same issue with pitching. I am relatively tall, and did well as a pitcher until I ran into a manager that insisted that I drop and drive like Tom Seaver. I completely lost control of the ball. He ruined my career. Little League coaches have the capacity to do great good and great harm. The fact that you are concerned about it shows that you are one of the best.

      • This goes to another tip from reading this site. I read that after the Pirates draft a player they don’t make any adjustments for awhile to see what they have got and to learn their player a little more That works well for little leaguers too!

    • I agree. I just coached a Little Leaguer to bend his legs and widen his stance to generate more power as well. I guess it depends on the player.

  2. I guess the new stance Suits him. Tee hee.

    Also, not to be lost in the mechanical adjustments are Suiter’s 80-grade forearms.

  3. The Pirates need to sign Kevin Riggs to a long term contract, buy out his free agent decades.
    If TCU is such a good baseball school why couldn’t they turn Suiter into a power hitter?
    How is Suiter defensively?

      • He is still listed on the Pirates website as an OF. With Bell as a fixture at 1B for several years the only place for him is to replace Osuna’s role. So how is his defense as an OF?

          • That tells me what I need to know, thanks. But it is odd that Suiter is described as a multi-sport athlete, yet doesn’t have any range in the outfield.

      • Wow! I like Osuna alot better defensively at 1st than Bell. I think that to improve our overall defense, they should look to put the players in their best spots and make that work. Trades would have to take place to get the most out of everyone. It’s hard to watch the Pirates play in the field sometimes.

    • Maybe if Indy has playoffs and Altoona doesn’t, then he could be one of the fillers for the September callups. The season ends a month from today, so any promotions after this point really aren’t going to get into enough games to change anything about their progress.

  4. At times a simple adjustment can unlock hidden potential. I always liked him and could not fathom why he was a single hitters at his size and strength. Now hopefully the best is yet to come from him.

  5. I don’t get why people take that Bagwell stance (including the hall of famer Bagwell himself lol). It just makes things much harder

    • Players usually do this to try for a contact heavy approach. I’ve been writing about how this impacts Suiter since seeing him all last year. From one of the Top Performers articles last year (before it became The Twenty):

      “Suiter is a corner player, but doesn’t have the power you’d expect from a corner infielder or outfielder. He moved to first base this year, which requires more power, or a lot of contact and a high on-base percentage. It seems that he goes for the latter, as he has a very wide stance, limiting the power potential from his 6′ 4″, 230 pound frame. He does a good job of spraying the ball around the field and getting hits, although that hasn’t been consistent this year.”

      https://www.piratesprospects.com/2016/05/top-performers-newman-and-kramer-lead-a-big-week-for-the-bradenton-offense.html

  6. You read and hear about some of these young hitters like Suiter, Luplow as well as a Meadows, and maybe the Bucs should seriously consider signing Cutch and move a guy like Marte. Marte could possibly bring some depth to the Bucs, and they shed his salary which could help if they wanted to extend a Cutch.

      • If Marte ever found a way to lay off breaking pitches in the dirt, I might agree with you.

        How many more articles are we going to get regarding the positives coming out of hitters at Altoona before somebody in this organization realizes that it may be beneficial to have Kevin Riggs as the Hitting Coach for the MLB Team?

        • Then who would develop minor league talent? Promote him to MLB for the increase in salary for sure, but he is where he can make the most impact right now.

          • I hear ya, but the original discussion involved ‘Cutch who has averaged about 5.4 WAR over the past 4 seasons, and is on course for a hefty WAR around 5 in 2017.

            I thought Marte would mature out of that bad habit, and bring his K/W down to about 2/1 rather than the 4+/1 it has been. We also saw him as a developing middle-of-the-order hitter after hitting 19 HR in 2015, but his lack of power last year and the PED thing and lack of power so far this year has me concerned. “Cutch and Bell look too good in the middle of our order.

            • That’s why I said “going forward.” I’m more optimistic that Marte can put up these numbers over the next few years compared to Cutch. Also, his contract is a steal for the production.

              • couldn’t agree more. Marte can hit 9 homers and steal 50 bases and be more valuable than he would be hitting 25 homers, at the top of the lineup. What Marte gave us in 2016 is awesome.

        • If Marte ever found a way to lay off breaking pitches in the dirt, I might agree with you.
          – He did that last year. Very well.

  7. Yes! Yes! YESSSS!! The power has really shown up in a big way for the Pirates this year. Also from the way they have drafted it seems to be, whether consciously or not, a shift from .OBP and .AVG to .OBP and .SLG when pursuing and developing talent. I don’t recall having this much power and .OBP in one season for a long time. Suiter, Hill, Espinal, Moroff, Luplow, George, Kramer, Krause, Moore Tucker, Craig and on and on and on. Plus that doesn’t included more ballyhooed guys like Meadows, Barnes, Joe and the like. We may be 14th in the recent ranking but with whats developing we will be top 5 next season.

    • I never thought of Barnes and Joe as ballyhooed. I like your optimism though. I stopped getting as excited about prospects once the mlb club started getting good again.

  8. Watching him I kept thinking that he does not look like he should have been drafted that low. He is one powerful looking guy who also looks very athletic.

    • Leo, could you rank in in with the other outfielders who have come through Altoona in the last ten years? Where does he fit in?

Comments are closed.