I sat down with current San Jose Giants starting catcher and No. 14 ranked prospect (according to MLB.com) in the San Francisco Giants organization, Andrew Susac, to talk about his first year playing professional baseball.
Andrew, first just tell me about the general transition you’ve had to make jumping straight from college ball into Class-A ball?
The transition has been a lot more than I thought. Calling a game is one of the hardest things to do in sports, I think, and I’m convinced now. It’s a big learning curve behind the dish because pretty much the whole game, between the pitcher and the catcher, is run right behind the plate with me. Right now I’m just trying to learn my pitchers and learn my staff as quickly as I can and we possibly have new guys coming in and out so it’s a constant grind to try to mix those two. You’ve got to learn what type of characteristics your pitchers have, what type of person they are and how you can instruct them a certain way and go about people in different ways. But the learning curve is definitely tough. Pitchers at this level are pretty good and the arms are definitely good. Taking nights off isn’t something you can do often so you always have to be ready to play.
Catchers talk about getting into a groove with their pitchers. Are there any pitchers that you feel you’ve meshed well with so far?
Yeah it’s different every game, obviously. Some nights it’s clicking. I go into the bullpen with my pitchers and see what they have that day, every day they’re going to have something different. They won’t always have all four pitches going, so you kind of have to take what you get from the bullpen and bring it out here. But definitely Schumer, Snodgrass, Bradley, Rogers, we go well together sometimes and sometimes we struggle a little bit getting on the same page and that’s part of the learning curve. I know they had a different catcher last year so I'm trying to develop the same relationship they had with him and get things on the right track here.
Josh Osich, a guy you were teammates with at Oregon State, talk about how that’s been to make your way into the organization with a guy you’ve been playing with for a while.
It’s funny, I went to high school with a few guys who ended up going to Oregon State so I had an easy transition there and when Josh transferred to the Giants organization with me it was great. It's always easier to make friends and get on the same page with teammates when you’ve previously played with them and Josh is a great guy. We’ve always been good friends. He’s been dealing though so we might not see him for very long; he’s just got to stay healthy and do his thing.
Being from Sacramento, you’re a local kid and you grew up a Giants fan. What has it been like playing for the organization you've admired as a kid?
It’s a dream come true. I tell everyone that. It was pretty surreal when they called me; I didn’t really expect that. I didn’t have much contact with their scouts at the time of the draft so I was kind of in shock. It really is a dream come true. I get to come and play in Stockton and Modesto and get to come home and see my family. The Cal League is a great league for me and I’m very fortunate to have that, but as far as the Giants organization, it’s been great.
When you’ve got guys like Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez coming here for rehab assignments, what have been the emotions going through your mind getting a chance to be teammates with them so quickly?
Yeah it’s pretty cool, we’re fortunate to be in San Jose which is really close to the big league club so we have a lot of rehabbers that will come through here and pitch and play positions. It’s really cool, I got to meet a lot of them in Spring Training so I knew them from there so there is this new relationship when they come here and they know your name. That’s one thing that really sticks with me, is how they remember everyone’s name.
Let’s talk about Buster Posey. He was a highly touted catching prospect like you were. When you were in Spring Training, did you get a chance to talk with Buster and maybe get a little advice from him?
No we didn’t really break it down too much. I knew he was really busy getting healthy and getting back to the team, but I mean we talked a little bit. Buster is a great guy. He was the first one to come up to me and say, "hey if you need anything or have any questions just let me know.” He kind of introduced me to the program, it was really cool.
Through this losing streak, how have you seen the team’s emotions play out? And what do you think you guys can do to get back on the right track?
We’re going to have ups and downs. This losing streak is not a very good one and it's not fun to lose so I see a lot of mixed emotions, but we try to stay level-headed and stay confident and keep a good mind. But obviously after losing eight straight it starts to get to you and it wears on you. So we try to pick each other up every day and you can't look too much into it because losing is contagious and so is winning.
When you guys are down here in the lower levels of the system, how have you noticed the players here paying attention to other levels, especially the big club? How much of that is on your guys’ mind?
I don’t think it runs through our minds very often. Those are kinds of things that you can’t really control, and I always try to say “control what you can control." I think most of the guys out here are just performing every day and come out here and play as hard as we can every day and the rest will take care of itself. But if you start thinking into things that you can't control that’s when you start to get a little messed up and things won't go your way.
I've got to ask you one last thing, about the fighting incident from the other week. Take me through what happened that night.
It was a good baseball play, man. The series had been very chippy the whole time and we’d been going back and forth with them. I just felt like something was bound to happen. It was a close play at the plate, a good hard play, words were said. He was out by quite a bit, at least 10 feet, and he slid in pretty hard and I didn't say anything initially but he started chirping at me and the umpire got in between us. I felt like he was going to come after me so I laid the first jab and benches cleared. My team was behind me on my back. It's part of baseball, you know?