Anderson Suriel – Pic via his Instagram
One of the highlights of the baseball season beginning in March and April is reading highlights of what is happening in extended spring training from Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter. It is there we can get our first glimpse of prospects who have come stateside from the Dominican Summer League. Sometimes Phil gets excited about certain guys and hypes them up and they do well and sometimes they don’t. One guy who I’ve enjoyed reading about and seeing video and pictures from 2022 was Anderson Suriel. He did not quite live up to the hype of the early spring last year. But this year, the 20-year-old is doing much better, and I am interested in seeing him come to full-season baseball at some point in the next nine months.
Height – 5-foot-11
Weight – 175 at the time of signing
Bats – Left
Throws – Left
Age – 20
From – Santo Domingo in the DR
Signed as an international free agent in November 2019
Anderson’s first year was put on hold by the pandemic. In 2021, he made his debut in the Dominican Summer League and it was impressive season in terms of statistics. That’s when he first caught my attention. He hit .295 with a .356 on base percentage. He drove in 28 runs in 50 games, but he did not hit any home runs. I found that a little odd, but kids at that age don’t yet have the strength they need to hit home runs in a professional setting. Once I told myself that, I moved on.
In 2022, because of the crowded nature of the Cubs outfield system, Andersen converted to playing first base. Based on the hype of the year before, and some comments from Arizona Phil, I thought that he was going to be a guy who was going to hit fairly well in the Arizona Complex League in 2022. That didn’t happen as well as I thought it would.
Injuries, limited Suriel to 14 games. And in that small sample size, he had just .258 with a .361 on base percentage even though it was 14 games, I thought it was good that he was walking quite a bit as a 19-year-old. But 14 games worth of data is not enough to get you to Myrtle Beach to start the 2023 season.
Instead, Anderson went to extended spring training where Arizona Phil talked about him early and often.
4 HR, 15 RBI, 10 RUNS, 9 BB (9% walk-rate), 14 K (13% K-rate), 0 HBP, 3 SF, 1 GIDP, 6 SB (0 CS), 1 PO
DEFENSE: 1B (27 games) and LF (9 games)
OUTFIELD ASSISTS: 1 (from LF)
NOTE: Led team in SF, tied for team lead in HR with J. Rojas, and had the lowest (best) K-rate among qualified players.
This year, there were home runs. When you see pictures of Anderson by either Rich Biesterfeld or John Antonoff, you can see that he’s muscled up quite a bit. And it seems to be paying off in other ways at the plate. He’s already surpassed the number of games he played in 2022 this year. At the time I began writing this post, he was hitting .286 with a .392 on base percentage and 10 RBI in 14 games. There are no homers yet in games, but it’s early.
At 20-years-old, it’s still pretty early in his career but there has to be some more power. That should come with natural maturation the next two years. Suriel is playing well enough that he could get a trip to Myrtle Beach at some point this year but that’s not a place that’s conducive to power either. He might be better off staying the year in Mesa. Still, we’ve seen guys hit well on the road in Myrtle Beach. Felix Stevens and Moises Ballesteros did this year and Suriel could do it next year.
In addition, Suriel is turning into a garbage disposal over at first base. I did a recent interview with Dai Dai Otaka, the Cubs roving infield instructor, and he was effusive in his praise for Suriel’s skills. Otaka said:
He’s come leaps and bounds since spring training. He was an outfielder before and started playing first base. The coaches in Arizona have done a phenomenal job with him including manager Nick Lovullo. He is picking balls, moving his feet really well, and his throwing is really good. He’s been helping our infielders a lot. He’s got a really good work ethic. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
We’re still about a year away from him possibly breaking out with his power. Probably, the number one thing the Cubs can do with him besides reworking his swing a little bit is having Buddy Bailey whispering in his ear every day. There’s no doubt in my mind that Bailey is the top developer in the system and Suriel could make the greatest strides in his career with Bailey next year.
The potential, though, is there now. Without that, nothing happens in 2024.