From the moment that Nick Senzel was selected second overall by the Reds, the clock started ticking for Eugenio Suarez at third base.
Since Senzel has even exceeded the lofty expectations set forth so far, and has progressed to High-A this season, that pipeline to the big leagues has seen no delays. If anything, it has slightly sped up.
With that in mind, the main blocker for Senzel will eventually be Suarez, who is manning the same third base position for the Reds at the moment. Suarez is acting as a placeholder quite effectively, in fact.
The Reds have made no bones about the aggressive plans to possibly having Senzel Major League ready by 2018. That means one of two things for Suarez: find a new position or find a new zip code.
Since being traded to the Reds in the Alfredo Simon deal and moving from shortstop, Suarez has made tremendous strides defensively at the hot corner. However, it is most impressive what he has done with the bat.
In just over his first 1,000 at bats with the Reds, Suarez is a .259 hitter with a .737 OPS. He is also coming off a 25-double and 21-home run season. There is plenty to be excited about with Suarez in the middle of the order. Additionally, Suarez is just 25-years-old.
The issue is what Senzel brings to the table. Already one of the top prospects in the game, Senzel has risen up quickly. As the top college bat coming into the draft last June, this is no surprise. However, he brings something to the table that Suarez just can’t reach with his ceiling.
The only way for Suarez to stay on the field for the Reds after this, and maybe half of next, season is to continue to hit. If he does this, the Reds will always find a place for him in the lineup. If not, he is tradable and will continue his career with another big league franchise. Either way, Suarez is a big leaguer and contributes to the franchise.
With his age at that point, combined with similar expected production, Suarez could bring back a solid yield of prospects. This is assuming he cannot move back to shortstop or second base, and Senzel continues to rake at his current pace.
Either way, Suarez has to hear footsteps. It is those of one of baseball’s next third base stars.