Spring Training Notebook: Righthander Jarlin Susana Stands Out, 2021 First-Rounder Creates Buzz
PEORIA, Ariz. — Even though it was just his first time throwing in the United States, Padres righthander Jarlin Susana already had enough buzz to draw a substantial crowd. A combined horde of Padres scouts and officials, plus evaluators from other clubs, watched as the big man with the big fastball threw a live batting practice.
During the short session, Susana, who signed with San Diego this past January for $1.7 million, blazed his fastball regularly into the mid 90s and topped out at 98 mph. He also mixed in a hard changeup and a tantalizing slider, the last of which hinted at its potential as a future plus or better offering.
“It’s been very impressive getting him into camp,” Padres farm director Ryley Westman said. “He’s big, physical, strong and athletic, but I think on top of that, we’re rolling into the gym at 6 a.m. and he’s one of the first guys in there and asking questions in meetings.
“To project what he does this year, I don’t know where he goes or what he does, but I’m just excited to get him into the system. Excited to have him learn the program, his routines, and he’s been pretty impressive so far.”
In a showcase in October of 2020, Susana—who was listed at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds—drew buzz for a fastball that touched 96. Roughly 18 months later, Susana checks in closer to 240 pounds and has seen the corresponding jump in stuff.
“Power, power stuff. It’s big and it’s got carry,” Westman said. “It’s power stuff.”
The live BP session was one of the first steps in what the Padres hope will be a long career. If it goes to plan, the crowds of fans coming to see him will be much larger than the dozens he drew Wednesday morning on the backfields.
After the morning work was done, the Padres sent a group of their high-end prospects to the other side of the complex to match up against the White Sox’s Double-A and Triple-A groups. The San Diego contingent included outfielders Robert Hassell III, Joshua Mears, Samuel Zavala and James Wood, along with infielders Euribiel Angeles and Victor Acosta.
But the most impressive—at least on this day—was shortstop Jackson Merrill. San Diego’s first-rounder from the 2021 draft out of high school in Severna Park, Md., used a smooth, balanced swing from the left side to collect at least two hits on the day. In doing so, he showed an impressive ability to stay back on pitches and poke them the opposite way.
He also showed his chops on the defensive end with a nifty, athletic play at shortstop to record the last out of the eighth inning.
San Diego’s system isn’t the monster it once was a few seasons ago, thanks to trades to supplement the big league club—one of the prizes in those trades, catcher Austin Nola, spent the day getting at-bats in the Double-A game—but there is plenty of talent still in-house.
Some of those players, like Merrill, come with big reputations. Others, like Susana, might take a little longer to creep into the mainstream.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Righthander Sean Burke started the Double-A game for the White Sox and showed a few interesting ingredients. He fronted his repertoire with a fastball that sat around 94 mph and touched 97 and backed it up with a hammer curveball in the low 80s. … Giants righthander Nick Sinacola, selected in the seventh round of the 2021 draft out of Maine, showed off an interesting three-pitch, including a slider and a split-change both in the same velo range. The pitches tunneled together well, too, but the divergent shapes could give hitters fits … Fellow San Francisco righty Manuel Mercedes was impressive in his last outing as well. His live arm and low slot produced mid-90s fastballs with devastating two-seam life, as well as slicing sliders and tumbling changeups. If he can keep his command in check, he could move quickly through the lower levels of the system.