Jesús Marcelo Sucre Medina
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 225 lb.
Jesús Sucre was involved in an extremely unusual play in his first major league at-bat.
Sucre initially signed as an international free agent with the Atlanta Braves; the scouts were Julian Perez, Rolando Petit and Jose Leon. Known primarily for his defensive play and strong throwing arm, he hit only .214/.276/.300 in 19 games for the 2005 DSL Braves. He improved to .278/.331/.376 in 2006 and threw out 49% of attempted base-stealers to be named the DSL Braves Player of the Year. He came to the US in 2007 but hit only .221/.265/.269 for the GCL Braves while splitting the starting role with Matt Kennelly. In 2008, he batted .182/.222/.253 for the Danville Braves, again splitting action with Kennelly.
Sucre's bat was more effective in 2009, which he split between the Rome Braves (.325/.352/.432 in 45 G) and Myrtle Beach Pelicans (.259/.286/.386 in 53 G). He threw out 42% of base-stealers but had 13 errors and 17 passed balls. He made 17 more errors in 2010, in which he played for Myrtle Beach (.220/.251/.346 in 48 G) and the Mississippi Braves (.297/.301/.428 in 38 G, 1 BB). He made his Venezuelan League debut that winter, going 0 for 2 for the Leones del Caracas.
Jesús began 2011 with Mississippi but hit poorly (.219/.255/.255 in 40 G) and was let go. He signed with the Seattle Mariners and batted .214/.258/.286 in 32 games for the Jackson Generals the remainder of the summer; overall, he threw out an impressive 52% of base thieves. In winter ball, he hit .205/.314/.227 for Caracas. Still only 24 years old, he made progress with Jackson in 2012, batting .271/.319/.315 and handling 769 chances without an error. He threw out 44.4% of attempted base-stealers. He was named the Southern League All-Star catcher. He hit .239/.302/.283 for the Leones in the 2012-2013 winter. He began 2013 as the backup to top prospect Mike Zunino for the Tacoma Rainiers and was making good contact (.302/.373/.321) in limited action (14 of the team's first 50 games) while continuing to show a good arm. When 2012 starter Jesus Montero struggled early on, he was demoted to Tacoma; meanwhile, Zunino was hitting the ball hard but not consistently, so Seattle called up Sucre.
Starting at catcher for the Mariners against the Texas Rangers on May 24, 2013, Sucre came up to bat in the 2nd inning with no one out and runners Raul Ibanez on second base and Justin Smoak on first. He hit a ground ball to 1B Mitch Moreland, who threw to SS Elvis Andrus to retire Smoak at second for the first out. The unusual bit came next, as P Justin Grimm was moving to cover first base, even though Moreland had had time to return to the bag; Grimm put his glove in front of Moreland's and caught the relay, but umpire Jeff Nelson was completely fooled, calling Sucre out at first even though Grimm's foot was nowhere near the bag. Like almost everyone else, Nelson had assumed Moreland had caught the throw, and Grimm did a great selling job, calmly walking back to the mound with the ball in his glove, as if nothing untoward had happened. Indeed, when Mariners manager Eric Wedge came out to argue, it was to claim that Moreland's foot had been off the bag, not that someone else had caught the relay! The play was allowed to stand, scotching a potential big inning, and the M's lost the game, 9-5. Sucre went 1 for 4 with a run scored, but grounded into another double play - a clean one this time - later in the game. He played only 8 games in the majors that year, going 5 for 26. In 2014, he played 48 games for Tacoma, hitting .274 with 2 homers and 16 RBIs, and .213 in 21 games for Seattle.
Sucre got to make his pitching debut for the Mariners on June 12, 2015, pitching a scoreless 8th inning in mop-up relief in a 10-0 beating at the hands of the Houston Astros. He got some help when Preston Tucker grounded into a double play and needed to make only 7 pitches; he explained after the game that he had never pitched in his life, not even in Little League. It didn't take long for him to come back to the mound, though, as on August 15th, with the Mariners suffering an epic beatdown at the hands of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, he was called on to pitch the 8th inning. Things did not go as well this time, as after a couple of outs, he gave up an RBI double to Blake Swihart and a two-run homer to Jackie Bradley - his second homer and fifth extra-base hit of the afternoon - and then a pair of singles before getting Xander Bogaerts to fly out for the last out. The M's lost that game 22-10, but only made the score respectable by scoring 8 runs in their last two turns at bat, when the game was already well and truly lost. Apart from his pitching exploits, Jesús served as a back-up to Mike Zunino for most of that year, as he only played 6 games at Tacoma. He got into into 52 major league games and hit .157 with his first homer and 7 RBIs.
With the Mariners acquiring a couple of catchers in the off-season, his position on the team was already not secure for 2016, but it got worse on January 17th, when he broke his fibula while sliding into second base in a winter league game. He was playing for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan League finals, and was hitting .345 in the postseason after putting up a .350 mark in the regular season, showing unexpected pop with his bat. The injury meant that he was played on the 60-day disabled list when the Mariners opened spring training and he ended up playing just 9 games. In this limited time, he hit extremely well, though, with 12 hits in 25 at-bats for a .480 average.
On February 8, 2017, he was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays for future considerations. He played 62 games that season, hitting .256 as a back-up catcher. He showed surprising power, with 7 homers and 29 RBIs, after having hit just 2 long balls in his first four seasons. He was back in the same role in 2018 and on July 3rd was called upon to make the fourth pitching appearance of his career in a wild game against the Miami Marlins. The two teams were tied at 4-4 through 15 innings before Tampa Bay managed to score 5 runs in the top of the 16th. During that rally, pitcher Vidal Nuno suffered a leg injury while running the bases and had to be replaced by a pinch-runner, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who came in to score the 5th and final run of the frame. Manager Kevin Cash decided not to tax his bullpen any further and asked Jesús to start the bottom of the 16th on the mound, trying to protect a 9-4 lead. However, he gave up singles to the first three batters he faced - all three balls being softly hit - and then a sacrifice fly to Bryan Holaday. By then, the Rays had no choice but to use a real pitcher to nail the win. Jose Alvarado recorded the final two outs, although he also walked pitcher Dan Straily, who was pinch-hitting for another pitcher, Brett Graves, and allowed another of Sucre's baserunners to score on a ground out. Alvarado received credit for the unusual save. At 5 hours and 31 minutes, it was the longest road game in Rays history.
- 2013 Mariners Media Guide