The St. Louis Cardinals signed left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez, formerly an All-Star in the KBO League.
The St. Louis Cardinals made their annual foray into pitching from East Asia, signing Andrew Suarez from the KBO League, the highest level of baseball in South Korea, to a minor league contract and inviting him to Spring Training.
The 30-year-old Suarez was a second-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2014 after he displayed a polished approach at the University of Miami, showing plus control from a low three-quarters arm slot. His slider is his best weapon, and he can complement it with a low- to mid-90s fastball.
Suarez debuted in the major leagues with the Giants in 2018, but he struggled, amassing a 4.49 ERA. He still provided a strong walk rate, allowing only 45 free passes in 160.1 innings. Suarez was relegated to the bullpen in 2019, where he continued to have trouble.
In 2021, Suarez signed with the KBO League's LG Twins. He flourished there with a 2.18 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 115.1 innings and earned an All-Star nod in his lone season. The next year, he traveled east to Japan to play for the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball. After a 4.09 ERA in 77 innings, Suarez was released.
The Cardinals will once again try to net the next Miles Mikolas in their reclamation projects from overseas. In 2022, the Cardinals grabbed right-handed pitchers Aaron Brooks from the KBO and Drew VerHagen from NPB, neither of whom panned out last season. The Cardinals released Brooks, and VerHagen missed most of the season with an injury after pitching 21.2 unspectacular innings.
Suarez was at one point a promising prospect for the Giants, and it will be up to first-year pitching coach Dusty Blake in Spring Training to try and find that success that Suarez showed in college. If all breaks well, he has the possibility to compete for a bullpen spot with fellow southpaw JoJo Romero. A more likely scenario, if he remains with the organization is pitching at Triple-A and receiving a promotion after injuries or roster expansions.