Big League Debuts: Mayfield, Knizner, Suarez Get the Call

Jack Mayfield, 2B (HOU) - It’s worth celebrating when guys like Mayfield climb the professional ladder and finally get to the show. The 28-year-old second baseman was a two-year starter at the keystone for the University of Oklahoma before going undrafted in 2013. Mayfield doesn’t have a flashy skill set, and the does the little things to win games. He will field what’s hit to him, put the bat on the ball, move the runner over, that kind of skill set.

He found some extra power in 2017 though, it did it while keeping the strikeouts below 20 percent. He had a career-high 50 extra base hits in 2017 splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, and hit a career high 16 homers in a full season in Triple-A in 2018. With injuries hitting the Astros hard early he got the call after a strong start to 2019 as he owns a .283/.365/.572 line with ten homers in 41 games for Round Rock. I don’t expect Mayfield to be here long, but he’s hit enough to get some himself more opportunities going forward. He’s not worth rostering anywhere but it’s a great story as we celebrate the draft this week at ProspectsLive.

Andrew Knizner, C (STL) - The Cardinals drafted Knizner in the seventh round of the 2016 draft out of North Carolina State. When Knizner arrived on campus he was set to be a third baseman for the Wolfpack, but moved to behind the plate his sophomore year. He’s always handled the bat well and has never posted a strikeout rate above 14 percent at any level, and could easily clear the low offensive bar for catchers right now. Knizner has made great strides defensively and grades out at just a tick below average in his receiving and throwing, but that’s an acceptable trade off for a bat like this.

Carson Kelly was advertised as the catcher of the future for the last three or four years in St. Louis, but that torch got past sometime in 2018 with Knizner’s arrival. Knizner hit .313/.368/.430 last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and was off to a nice start so far in Memphis this season with a .286/.355/.450 line with five homers over 37 games. Knizner’s peak seasons look something like .280/.330 with 15-20 homers. He needs to be rostered in 20+ team dynasty leagues, but don’t expect much impact for the 2019 season as he’s expected to go down to Memphis when Molina returns.

Jose Suarez, LHP (LAA) - The squatty lefty missed the first month of the 2019 season due to a sore shoulder before making his debut on May 5 for Triple-A Salt Lake. It’s a fascinating profile for a few different reasons. First, he doesn’t have the build you would normally associate with a big league starter. He’s listed at five-foot-ten, and may be shorter than that, and also looks larger than his listed 225 pounds. He surged through the minors last season starting in High-A and advancing all the way to Triple-A, and it’s because Suarez found more velocity. He used to sit 89-92 with the fastball but survived due to his above average curve, which has flashed plus, and a plus changeup. Now the fastball sits 92-94 and both secondaries are quality offerings. He needs to tighten the command up as it has creeped over four walks per nine while at Triple-A in 2018 and he hasn’t been able to improve on that number since. To reach his mid-rotation ceiling he needs to shave a walk or so off of that rate, and will remain too inefficient until he does. Suarez was called up to make a spot start against the Mariners in Seattle and went 5 2/3 innings, with four strikeouts and three walks while allowing three runs and picking up the win. He has put himself in position to make another start in the future and is worth rostering if the matchup is right. Suarez was ranked 8th on our Los Angeles Angels prospect list.