When playing the Jesuit Marauder baseball team, there’s one rule, a commandment if you will, that you need to follow – Thou Shalt Not Steal.
With Major League prospect Andrew Susac behind the plate, Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.) opponents travel the basepaths at their own peril. Teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs found that out the hard way this week.
In an 11-4 win over Fairfield on Monday, Susac picked a runner off of first base, threw out a runner attempting to steal and also tagged out a couple of runners at home.
It was more of the same in a thrilling 6-4 win over Elk Grove on Tuesday. This time, Susac ended the game by throwing out a runner at third base.
“More than one scout has indicated that Andrew may be the best throwing arm behind the plate in this year’s draft class,” longtime Jesuit coach Joe Potulny said. “Several scouts have confirmed pop times in game below 1.8. One scout who is a former MLB player said that ‘he throws better than (Johnny) Bench,’ after looking at his stopwatch at our second game this spring.”
Pretty heady stuff for a high school athlete to be compared to one of the greatest catchers of all time, but Susac is not the type to let such praise go to his head.
“He is disciplined and well-grounded,” Potulny said. “If he does not make a career as a baseball player, it will not be due to a flaw in his mental makeup. An injury possibly, or a deficiency in his game at the professional level, but the game will not break him downs as it does so many individuals in their late teens or early twenties.”
Ranked No. 65 in the MaxPreps Baseball Top 100, Susac is expected to be drafted in the first two rounds, according to several mock drafts.
“That would be a dream come true,” Susac said.
While Susac possesses the arm necessary to play at the next level, he’s also very handy with a bat. He’s batting .455 with 31 RBI, eight doubles, three triples and seven home runs heading into today’s playoff game. As a junior, Susac batted .466 with 31 RBI, nine doubles and six home runs. Potulny says that Susac’s hitting ability was evident early in his high school career.
“Andrew’s freshman year, spring 2006, we had a rainy day workout at a local indoor batting cage. “Andrew’s father was throwing pretty firm BP from approximately 45 feet away and carving up some of the older hitters,” Potulny said. “When Andrew jumped in, he turned the first 3-5 pitches around pretty effortlessly. I knew at that time he would have very little trouble catching up to high school fastballs the next four years.”
Susac says that having a father willing to put in the time to help him hone his skills has been crucial to his development.
“My dad has been my biggest influence,” he said. “He’s taught me perseverance and discipline.”
Potulny adds that Susac’s father is also more than willing to get advice where ever he can if it will help his son improve his game.
“Andrew is blessed with a father, and uncle, who have a good feel for the baseball environment in Sacramento. They have done an excellent job of developing him as a person and a player,” Potulny said. “Andrew has committed himself to being excellent at everything he does . . . blocking, receiving, throwing, strength development and conditioning, etc. When it has been necessary to take the bar to the next level, Andrew, his dad and uncle have sought the advice of many of the great baseball people in the area. This experience, his willingness to listen and incorporate new perspectives, and his joy for preparation has helped shape him into the player and person he is becoming.”
Susac and the Marauders play tonight against either Fairfield or Elk Grove for the right to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 finals against the South champion. The 2-of-3 series is set for May 29-30 at Sac City College in Sacramento.
“I expect our team to battle for the title,” said Susac, who led Jesuit to the section title last year. “We have balanced hitting and great pitching.”
Susac was an all-city and all-state choice last year and played in the Aflac All-American Game in August. He signed with Oregon State in November and will play for the Beavers next season, assuming he does not sign with a Major League club following next months’ draft.
Regardless of where he plays next year, Potulny says his star catcher will be ready for the challenge.
“Andrew embraces preparation, which requires unceasing repetition,” he said. “Unlike many high school athletes who think they want to play at the next level – until they understand what is necessary – Andrew has an affinity for what it takes to be one of the best players on the field before the game begins.”