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Starlyn Suriel Improving with Better Command

Starlyn continues to shine in his return to the Lansing Lugnuts

Starlyn Suriel Improving with Better Command

April 25, 2015

Starlyn Suriel

Starlyn Suriel returned to the Lansing Lugnuts to begin the 2015 season. (Photo by Jay Blue, used by permission)

A name that drew intrigue in the Blue Jays minor league system last season was that of right-handed pitcher Starlyn Suriel. Many fans were curious about a guy that could skip over rookie-ball to go straight to low-A baseball in his first professional season and succeed like he was a veteran.

Splitting time between Vancouver and Lansing in 2014, the up-and-coming prospect made another big jump after his first spring training by joining a full season affiliate in April.  While fans were torn on whether Suriel would begin this year by returning to the low-A Lansing Lugnuts or if he could make the jump to the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays, after pitching 42 innings last season in the Midwest League, and after maintaining an impressive 1.14 WHIP as a member of the Lugnuts’ in 2014, it was a valid question.

The team debate was not an issue for Suriel whose only focus was to play for a full season affiliate in April while improving on every aspect of his game.

“Coming back to Lansing was good with me. I felt it didn’t really matter, as I had a job to do wherever they sent me,” said Suriel. “My focus doesn’t change between the levels. When you’re promoted it’s the same thing, you have to go out there and do your job to the best of your abilities and that’s my mindset every outing.”

That mindset will definitely make Blue Jays supporters happy, as Suriel’s 2014 was nothing to be unsatisfied with. He went 6-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 58 strikeouts in his 79 innings between the two levels. But so far in his 2015 campaign he has delivered on his promise allowing only two runs in his first 13 1/3 innings of work. Midwest League hitters are only managing a .174 batting average against him, while he is currently sporting an impressive 0.83 WHIP.

“My only goal for 2015 is to do better than last year,” explained Suriel. “I feel I did well last season, but I had a couple areas I wanted to improve on this season and they are my only focus right now.”

Suriel’s success this season is coming largely in part to his improved command of his curveball and slider. Entering professional baseball Suriel was known for his excellent changeup and sinking fastball that could get him ahead in counts. But this past off-season Suriel focused on sharpening his breaking balls and the results are paying dividends so far.

“I worked hard on my slider and curveball this past off-season,” stated Suriel. “I knew those were two areas I needed to improve on to be successful at my game, so I put a lot of emphasis on those two pitches.”

“The improvement of my slider and changeup is helping my game a lot this season,” he added. “I feel it gives me two more pitches to put guys away with and they give me more options in certain situations.”

Consistently hitting the mid-70’s with his curveball and the low-80’s with his slider helps the young prospect keep hitters off-balanced, as he mixes in his low-90’s sinker and plus changeup. Suriel’s ability to throw four different pitches for strikes keeps hitters guessing every time.

Impressed with the progression Suriel has made over last season, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Jeff Ware is happy to see the increased command and confidence that the young prospect has made with all of his pitches during the off-season.

“Starlyn Suriel is similar to when I worked with him last year in Vancouver,” said Ware. “I would say he’s getting my consistent with his strike throwing. He has fantastic deception with his fastball, so that will get him some more swings-and-misses. You factor that in with him getting people out with his changeup, curveball, and slider. It’s great to see, as he keeps hitters off-balanced every outing.”

Ware added, “He’s getting better with his breaking balls. He’s able to repeat the delivery a little bit better and he has proven the quality of both of his secondary pitches so far this season.”

Known for his above-average control and efficiency on the mound. Suriel is not the kind of pitcher that blows a lot of hitters away with velocity, but his pitch movement and mechanics definitely keeps fans locked into his game from his first pitch to his last of the day.

The rise to the major leagues from the Midwest League can be a quick one at times, as Kendall Graveman and Miguel Castro proved recently. If Suriel can continue the kind of success he has enjoyed in the month of April he could easily rise through the system quickly and find himself pitching at the Rogers Centre in the near future.

Be sure to follow Starlyn Suriel as he looks to be tough on hitters all season, while working hard to earn another promotion soon.