Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’17 — #13 Andrew Susac

13 days.

As we prepare to wave goodbye to the teens, I wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who has followed me over to this space on Medium. I know that I still tweet my links and post them to Facebook, and that now points here, but it’s still easy to reject change and your page views have really kept me motivated this year to get all of these individual columns written. So again, I thank you.

Anyway, let’s talk catching competition as we profile the second of the three men aiming to fill the two available MLB backstop jobs for the Brewers…

Andrew Susac.

The path for Andrew John Susac seemed pretty clear last September. Jonathan Lucroy was traded away from the Brewers in a separate transaction, and the front office acquired the long-blocked Susac from the San Francisco Giants as part of the return for lefty reliever Will Smith. There was question as to whether Martin Maldonado would return in his final year of arbitration eligibility and Manny Piña was the only other catcher on the roster.

The offseason came and the Brewers did indeed move on from Maldonado, trading him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The development seemed even better for Susac, except that the Brewers got a catcher back in that deal in Jett Bandy.

With no other moves at the catching position the rest of the winter, the stage was set for the Cactus League: Two jobs open on the 25-man roster. And with Piña being out of minor league options, it was shaping up that either Susac or Bandy would join Piña in Milwaukee with the other ticketed to start at the Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.

Early on in camp everyone was performing, especially defensively. Susac cooled off at the plate, as much as anyone can truly be warm in the short time that is the Cactus League, before beginning to miss games due to what was first called “neck stiffness.” Eventually revealed to be a sore trapezius muscle, Susac’s injury has kept him out of action for a week already.

Whether it ultimately impacts Susac’s availability for Opening Day is one thing, but it’s almost certainly influencing the decision-making by General Manager David Stearns and Field Manager Craig Counsell. What’s worse for Susac is that both Piña and Bandy are healthy and playing good baseball.

Piña in particular is making the absolute most of his opportunity at a starting MLB job by tearing the cover off the ball. While it’s all a small sample size buffet in Spring Training, Piña’s current .405 AVG and 1.178 OPS cannot be overlooked.

My prediction for Susac at this point is a simple one. Assuming he’s healthy by then, he will begin the season as the Sky Sox’s starting catcher. Any injuries or drastic long-term drought offensively by Bandy and you could see some hot-hand-riding by Counsell if Susac rakes in the thin mountain air and offensively slanted Pacific Coast League.

Still, while the train hasn’t yet departed for Susac to break camp with the Brewers this year, “All aboard!” has been called. Metaphors aside, it’s getting late quick.

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewsusac

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