MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: RockHounds’ Suddleson making most of promotion

Midland RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby didn’t know a lot about outfielder Jake Suddleson when he first joined his team on June 8.

Crosby didn’t know the player was undrafted after finishing his time at Harvard.

“That’s surprising with the talent that he has,” Crosby said of Suddleson. “You get to this level and if you can play, you can play.”

Since Suddleson was reassigned to the RockHounds from the Lansing Lugnuts, he has made a strong impression at the plate.

Through nine road appearances, the first-year pro hit three home runs, with six RBIs, to being his career with the Midland franchise.

The home run total puts him fourth on the team as the RockHounds returned home to begin a six-game homestand against the Wichita Wind Surge Tuesday.

Jeremy Eierman leads the team with four.

Before Suddleson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Athletics in 2020, he starred for the Crimson.

He had his strongest collegiate campaign as a junior in 2019 when he was named Ivy League Player of the Year and received American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Third Team All-America honors.

Suddleson set a new program record at Harvard with 53 RBIs and finished second in program history with 11 home runs on the season.

Everything was set up for the outfielder to close out his time in college with a strong senior season.

Then the coronavirus pandemic happened, limiting him to five games in his final year.

“I finished up school online, which was good to finish but it was kind of tough to graduate online, honestly,” Suddleson said. “The summer was a little better; I was able to get some baseball stuff in, which was good.”

When everything shut down due to the pandemic, the Pacific Palisades, California native returned to his home state.

The early virus restrictions in California meant that a lot of fitness facilities were closed.

From the summer to the winter, Suddleson looked for places to stay in shape and complete some baseball workouts.

“It was challenging, but at the end of the day you just got to find a way to get it done,” he said.

The Athletics signed Suddleson to a minor league contract in July 2020 and assigned him to the Arizona League Athletics to officially start his professional career.

He was moved to the Class High-A Lansing Lugnuts before advancing to the Permian Basin.

As an undrafted player, Suddleson knows he’ll have to work his hardest to achieve his dream of one day playing in the majors.

Crosby, a former A’s first-round pick in 2001, believes his newest outfielder is on the right path to being promoted.

“A lot of the times, it’s a little bit easier for guys who were first- or second-round picks to move up,” Crosby said. “Once you get to the Double-A level, if you perform they’ll move you.”

The manager has been impressed with Suddleson’s hitting, inserting him into the RockHounds’ starting lineup multiple times over the last three weeks.

For the rest of his time in Midland, Suddleson will look to prove people wrong and prove the Oakland organization right for taking a chance on him.

He wants to continue pushing toward his dream while having fun and enjoying the experience that comes with the minor leagues.

“I keep saying this to people, if you told me a year ago when COVID had first hit that this is where I would be right now, I wouldn’t believe you,” Suddleson said. “I’m just trying to enjoy it every day. I’ll keep working hard, keep getting better and hopefully keep going.”

>>Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya