A's top pick Susac: 'The best word to describe me is leader'

Northern California-based catcher tops Day 1, along with OFs Bolte (No. 56), Elliott (No. 69)

July 18th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- The A’s entered the 2022 MLB Draft having accrued an organizational catching depth in recent years that was matched by few teams in baseball. On Sunday night, that position grew even stronger when Oakland selected Daniel Susac from the University of Arizona with the 19th overall pick.

Rated the No. 12 overall prospect of the Draft and second-highest ranked catcher of this year’s class, Susac established himself as one of college baseball’s elite hitters over the past two seasons at Arizona, slashing .351/.412/.586 with 24 home runs, 43 doubles and 126 RBIs over 125 games.

Between his strong bat and defensive prowess, Susac earned a second-team All-American selection for 2022 and was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, an honor reserved for the top amateur player in the country.

“We’ve been able to see Daniel a lot over the years,” said A’s scouting director Eric Kubota. “We think he’s a guy that can impact the game both defensively and offensively. We really like the offensive potential and we think he has a chance to be a very good defensive catcher as well. Where we picked, we felt like he was head and shoulders above anybody else that was left on the board at that time.”

The Susac name might be familiar to baseball fans. His brother, Andrew, was a second-round pick by the Giants in the 2011 Draft. Daniel cited Andrew as his role model and inspiration for developing a passion for catching at a young age, leading to his development of an impressive defensive tool that includes a 60-grade plus arm behind the plate.

“Just watching my brother, I always wanted to be like him,” Susac said. “That’s something I picked up from him. I love playing [catcher]. You get to see the whole field and take the game into your own hands. It’s a lot of fun.”

A Northern California product who grew up in Roseville and attended baseball powerhouse Jesuit High School near Sacramento, Susac said he began to follow the Giants more closely once his brother was drafted. However, he said he’s well-versed in A’s history thanks to his father and uncle, both of whom grew up fans of the green and gold.

“I was excited to see the A’s believe in me,” Susac said. “Being a local kid, it’s exciting. I watched them growing up and I’m excited to get going.”

The addition of Susac marks the second time in three years the A’s have drafted a catcher with their first-round pick and gives Oakland a formidable group of backstops throughout the system. It starts at the Major League level with Gold Glove Award winner Sean Murphy.

In the Minors, Shea Langeliers, baseball’s No. 31 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, who is fresh off earning All-Star Futures Game MVP honors, and Tyler Soderstrom, rated baseball’s No. 35 overall prospect, currently headline the club’s prospect rankings as Oakland’s top two prospects.

“We obviously feel good about our catching depth right now,” Kubota said. “With what we have in Triple-A, and Tyler’s been good. There’s quite a few others that we like. We feel good about that depth and we feel like we added a premium catcher to the mix today.”

Asked what he brings to the A’s organization that stands out, Susac went beyond the impressive raw power to all fields and tremendous bat-to-ball skills, instead pointing to a more intangible tool: Leadership.

“I would say the best word to describe me is leader,” Susac said. “That’s just the way I try to embody myself as a player. I’m not only going to try to get the most out of myself, but I’m going to try to get the most out of all my teammates. I’m going to bring a great bat to the plate while also being a great defensive player. I’ve always taken pride in trying to be a well-rounded player.”

The A’s kept the local theme going during Day 1 of the Draft by selecting outfielder Henry Bolte of Palo Alto High School with pick No. 56. Rounding out Day 1 of Oakland’s Draft was University of Michigan outfielder Clark Elliott, whom the A’s selected 69th overall.

Bolte, who hit .441 with 48 stolen bases in 33 games as a high school senior and led the state of California with 13 home runs, was rated the Draft’s No. 40 prospect and comes with an exciting combination of power and speed that has sparked some comparisons to Blue Jays All-Star outfielder George Springer. Though Bolte has committed to play college ball at the University of Texas, Kubota said the A’s have a good sense of what it will require to sign the 18-year-old.

“Another guy we’ve seen a lot of,” Kubota said of Bolte. “He was on our area code team last summer. With Henry, he’s all about the ceiling. There’s tremendous upside. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s got a ton of raw power and can really run. There’s just a lot of upside to him. There’s some developing needed with the bat. But if the bat comes, he’s truly the kind of guy who could develop into a five-tool player.”

Elliott, who ranked as the No. 64 Draft prospect, is a bit more polished with the bat, having led the Cape Cod League this summer with a .344 average. Though Elliott played mostly the corner outfield spots at Michigan, his athleticism could open up a chance to play center field at the pro level.

“We really like the bat,” Kubota said of Elliott. “We think the tools are good, and there’s definitely upside left. The thing with Clark was an advanced college hitter. I’m sure we’ll try to give him some reps in center field to see if we can take advantage of his athleticism.”