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MLB Draft 2022: Oakland A’s select Daniel Susac with No. 19 overall pick

A’s use top pick on a catcher for second time in three years

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COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 25 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament - Arizona v Oregon Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s selected Daniel Susac in the 1st round of the 2022 MLB Draft on Sunday, with the No. 19 overall pick. The 21-year-old is a right-handed hitting catcher from the University of Arizona.

MLB Pipeline had Susac ranked 12th on their pre-draft board, with the following scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

The younger brother of one-time big league catcher Andrew Susac, Daniel was a legitimate high school prospect from Northern California in 2020, but went undrafted in the five-round Draft that summer. He went on to the University of Arizona and earned freshman All-American honors, as well as being named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, before playing well for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National team over the summer. It’s carried over to a big 2022 season, especially at the plate.

Now a Draft-eligible true sophomore, Susac has the chance to be an impact player on both sides of the ball. A switch-hitter when he joined the Wildcats, he’s hit almost exclusively right-handed, which scouts thought was his better side as a prepster anyway. Big and physical (6’4”, 218), Susac has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields, using the gap very well during his freshman season. There’s legitimate power to tap into as well. A former high school quarterback, he’s a better athlete and moves better than you’d think given his size.

Behind the plate, Susac’s plus arm plays well, and he did show off above-average defensive skills last spring, though he wasn’t receiving quite as well in the fall. Even so, he’s one of the best college backstops in the class, cementing his place in the first round with a very strong spring.

The A’s farm system is packed with catchers already, which serves as a reminder that the MLB Draft is an exercise in finding the best talent available regardless of position. They selected a catcher with their 1st-round pick two years ago (Tyler Soderstrom) and acquired another premium catching prospect in a trade last winter (Shea Langeliers), and that pair are currently ranked as the team’s top two overall prospects. Now they have another big name to go with them, as Susac rated highly on national draft boards.

  • MLB Pipeline: 12th
  • Baseball America: 11th
  • FanGraphs: 30th

Susac also fits this draft’s theme of MLB bloodlines. While several of the picks in the 1st round are sons of prominent former players, Daniel is the brother of Andrew Susac, who played 114 games in the majors for four teams over parts of six seasons from 2014-20. Andrew was a 2nd-round pick by the Giants in 2011.

Like his brother, Daniel is a local Northern California product from the Sacramento area. He was born in Roseville and went to high school in Carmichael, then stayed in the Pac-12 for college at Arizona. That geography meant he crossed paths with Soderstrom, whom the A’s drafted out of Turlock High School in 2020, and Susac said the following about Soderstrom via Cameron Salerno of the Sacramento Bee:

“It’s really cool. We played from when we were 12 or 13 and we played all those years together. Great friend. I’m excited to be there with him as well.”

They were two of the best local hitters in the 2020 high school class, and now both are in the A’s system. Susac is especially noted for his power, while on defense his arm is his best tool and he sounds like a good bet to stay behind the plate long-term. Keith Law of The Athletic gave this scouting report this week while projecting that he’d go 18th in his latest mock draft:

Susac ... is a solid-average receiver at worst with a plus arm, giving no doubt that he’ll stay at the position. At the plate, he starts out with an interpretive dance sequence that involves a huge step forward and then erases it with the same move backwards, but of more concern is that his swing is long, and he’s been far more dangerous against fastballs than anything else because adjusting once he’s committed to the swing is difficult. He has produced well enough in a Power 5 conference for two years to be a first-rounder, with a similar projection to Joey Bart’s out of college — low-OBP with power and solid defense.

FanGraphs ranked him 30th, with a Future Value of 45 and a High risk rating. They added the following notes:

The latest in the line of catchin’ Susacs, Daniel is a draft-eligible sophomore who has had two strong seasons in hitter-friendly Tucson. Like his oldest brother Andrew, he is a power-over-hit catcher whose size may impede his long-term ability to stay behind the plate.

Susac is a lanky 6-foot-5, which impacts his lateral mobility and ball-blocking, and at times he tries to throw from his knees because it takes him a while to get out of his crouch at his size. The depth of his crouch varies — at times it’s incredible how low-to-the-ground Susac plays, and at others he plays so high that it’s hard to call what he’s doing “crouching.” He is a fine receiver, it’s his arm and the consistency of his ground game that need the most developmental love.

Offensively, Susac is a power-over hit type prone to chase at a greater rate than average. His swing is also relatively grooved, but not so badly that he has a binary “no” hit tool projection. Instead, the realistic projection here is for Susac to be a passable defender with a 40 bat, which should still be sufficient for everyday duty because there’s so much raw power here already, and more is likely coming.

Susac still has lots of room for mass on his frame, though there may be a delicate balance between him adding strength and losing mobility such that he has to move out from behind the plate. It’s much more likely for these big-framed power hitting catchers to eventually find their way into a regular role than the smaller, contact-oriented ones.

On MLB Network, analyst Dan O’Dowd praised Susac for his makeup, saying this:

“For me the number one quality a catcher needs to have is emotional maturity, because I think he’s the heartbeat of your team. I think everything emanates from that position. Daniel is a really emotionally mature individual that really understands who he is and what he brings to the club day in and day out. He’s a very relationship-based guy. He’s gonna get the most out of your pitching staff.”

Add it up, and here’s what the A’s have got. They picked a catcher for the second time in three years because that was the best player available, and he’s a local product from an MLB family. He currently appears likely to stay at catcher defensively, even though he’s big for the position, and his bat profiles as power-over-hit. Sounds like a good prospect with the chance to provide value on both sides of the ball.

Welcome to the A’s!