Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hitting Prospect #9: Steve Susdorf

Outfielder Steve Susdorf is a lefthanded hitting prospect who is very similar to pitching prospect Michael Cisco. Like Cisco, he is not highly touted based on his perceived limited ceiling, but he has performed very well in his short minorleague career. Susdorf was drafted in the 19th round in 2008 out of Fresno State. The knock on Susdorf is that since he played four seasons at Fresno State, he began his professional career at an older age. Susdorf is currently 23 years old and finished the 2009 season at Reading.

Susdorf is a great contact hitter but does not hit for much power and has average skills in the outfield. In fact, after being promoted to Reading later in the season, Susdorf split time between LF and DH. This does not mean that he is a bad outfielder though, as Reading had a very good defensive outfield with Domonic Brown, Quintin Berry, and Mike Spidale.

Susdorf has hit .313 in his 2 years in the minors and has been promoted very quickly throughout the system due to his success and maturity. He played exceptionally well in 2008 especially in the beginning of the season where he played in Lakewood and Clearwater and hit .333 and .371 respectively. Towards the end of the season he was promoted to Reading and his success tailed off quite a bit and only hit .221 in 24 games. This drop off in production could have been due to the increase in competition or a player hitting the late season wall. I believe that it was a little bit of both in Susdorf's case as this was his first full season in the minors and has never played this late into the baseball season.

To give a little bit more background on Susdorf, he had an incredible career at Fresno State, most notably as a senior. In his last season as a Bulldog, Susdorf hit an amazing .343 with 13 homeruns, 88RBIs, and 32 doubles. The overall statistics may not seem very impressive but keep in mind that the college season is much shorter and he played in only 77 games. To develop a better comparison, if Susdorf's 2007 season was projected out to a 162 game season, his statistics would increase by a significant margin. He would have hit .342 with 27 homeruns, 185 RBIs, and 67 doubles.

Even though Susdorf is an older prospect and doesn't appear to possess great long-term potential, one cannot ignore his success up to this point in his baseball career. The thing that goes against Susdorf the most is that he plays the corner outfield which doesn't bode well for him as both Michael Taylor and Domonic Brown are currently blocking his way to the majors. In all likelihood, Susdorf will make it to the majors in a different organization. I believe that Susdorf has the ability to have a successful major league career and if he develops well he could become an average Major League starter. If Susdorf stalls in his development I believe he will project as a Greg Dobbs type player. Susdorf will start the 2010 season in Reading and will be given the opportunity to be promoted to Lehigh Valley towards the end of the season. Susdorf played at three different levels in 2008, so the Phillies organization does not seem to be concerned with challenging him.

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