It’s been a couple of weeks now since the Reds called up Ay-you-Hey-nee-oh Swa-rez, and he’s given us Reds fans a lot to think about. This is going to be a quick post to talk about what we can expect from Suarez going forward based on minor league numbers and scouting his current performance, and what impact that could have on the Reds’ future plans. I really liked the trade the Reds made to get Suarez when they made it, and I’ve only liked it more since seeing him in spring training and after his call up. From my (albeit unprofessional) scouting eye, he has a really solid, level, line-drive swing, and shows the ability to stay back on pitches really well. His swing and patience allowed him to achieve the almighty combo of hitting for power and taking walks in the minor leagues, where he had a career .276/.361/.417 line, for a .778 OPS. In today’s run scoring environment, if he could put up anything close to that in the majors while playing good defense at short, he’d be in the all-star discussion for a decade. So far we haven’t seen as much of that combo in the majors. He only has 3 extra base hits and 3 walks so far in 57 plate appearances, and has maintained a .288/.339/.385 line largely on the back of a .350 BABIP. He’s also been striking out in 19.3% of his plate appearances, so there’s some reason to worry. But, with the caveats of small sample size and the craziness that he must have gone through to go from not knowing if he was going to make the bigs this year at all to being the everyday starting shortstop overnight, I’m willing to give him some rope. He’s always been a guy who struck out a lot (18% career rate in the minors), and so my prediction would be that going forward, as he gets more comfortable, his walks and power will go up and that that will offset his BABIP as it goes down. He’ll probably end up in the range of a .750+ OPS. For perspective, Cozart was putting up a .769 OPS in what was undeniably his best offensive season in the majors at age 29, while Suarez is just about to turn 24. But any comparison to Zack obviously has to include defense because Cozart started out as good in the field, but over the last few years has improved his game to elite. If Suarez has really given fans any reason to be worried it has been his defense, and specifically his arm. In the minors he was scouted as an average to slightly above average defender at short, and certainly someone who could stay at the position a bat-first type of player. Since he’s been up with the Reds, I’ve actually been impressed with his range and instincts, but his throwing accuracy and strength have left a lot to be desired. Maybe it’s just “the yips” and he’ll do better as he settles in, but I remember hoping that was the case with Edwin Encarnacion for about 5 years. So where this leads me to is a bit of a conundrum for the Reds. If Cozart can come back healthy next year and come close to his offensive production from the first half of this year (both big ifs), then I don’t see how you move him off of short because his D is likely to be so much better than Suarez’s. But, with Suarez’s bat, I don’t see how you keep him out of the lineup, which has to at least make you think about Phillips. The shorter throw from second base might be just what Suarez needs to get his defense in line with his bat and take him to that all-star level, and there’s no way Phillips is going to out-hit him without some miraculous medical breakthrough. We also know that Phillips has full no-trade protection and a contract that might make him tough to trade anyway. So what do you think Nation? Are you sold on Suarez yet? Who do you want to see up the middle for the Redlegs next year and who do you think you will see?