OAKLAND — A’s first-round draft pick Daniel Susac got to soak it all in on Tuesday evening at the Coliseum.
The 21-year-old Sacramento native got paid handsomely, chatted up with players he grew up watching and was launching home runs in front of his family during batting practice.
Susac soaked in the excitement next to the batting cage on Tuesday before the A’s played the Astros all by himself, but when it comes to being a heralded catching prospect in the A’s farm system, he’s hardly alone.
The A’s have accumulated quite a bit of talented catching depth in their minor league system. It starts at the top on the major league roster with homegrown talent and Gold Glove Award winner Sean Murphy, who is under control through 2026.
Even if Murphy is added to the list of popular A’s players to be traded, there are plenty of other catchers ready to seize an opportunity.
First in line is the A’s No. 1 prospect, Shea Langeliers, who was acquired in the trade that sent Matt Olson to Atlanta. His time in the major leagues could come knocking before the end of the 2022 season, as flashed his potential during the Futures Game this month at Dodger Stadium where he was named the MVP.
Right behind Langeliers in the A’s prospect rankings is 2020 first-round draft pick Tyler Soderstrom, who has hit .275 with 27 home runs through his first two seasons in the minor leagues.
So with such a crowded catcher’s depth chart, why did the A’s feel the need to invest $3,531,200 – slot value for the 19th overall pick in this year’s MLB draft – on Susac?
Having a glut of talent at one of the most important position on the diamond is a good thing according to A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota and A’s manager Mark Kotsay.
“We think he’s a very good catcher, I don’t think you could ever have enough players no matter what positions they play,” said Eric Kubota, director of A’s scouting. “We feel really good about our catching depth … we feel like we added a premium catcher to the mix.”
“Anytime you can stockpile catchers, shortstops and centerfielders I think that’s a bonus,” Kotsay said. “You know, obviously those are pretty demanding positions. Not just physically on the field, but from a standpoint of teams and the necessity to have them.”
For Susac, having a list of talented competitors at his position is a good problem to have too.
“I think it’s awesome, it’s more brains to pick,” Susac said. “It’s always great to be around great competition because the best players get the best out of every else.”
Susac already saw the competitive nature of MLB life through his brother Andrew, who was a second-round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2011. Andrew played only 87 games with the Giants as he served as the backup to legendary Giants catcher Buster Posey in 2014 and 2015.
“He’s been huge for me going through this process,” Daniel said. “I think it’s a great source that I think a lot of people don’t have but having that I’m going to get the most out of asking questions every day about baseball, minor league life, major league life.”
Susac appears to have the necessary talent to make it as a MLB catcher.
During his junior season at Arizona, he hit .366 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in 64 games and was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award. He still has a couple of years before he’s expected to arrive in the majors, but one quality that could make Susac stand out from the rest of the pack is his leadership, which he said he learned while starting as Jesuit High School’s quarterback in Sacramento.
“I think playing multiple sports as a kid helped me a lot,” Susac said. “Being a quarterback I think really helped me and also being a catcher. It’s two big leadership roles that you kind of have to do or else you’re going to get eaten alive.”