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FROM SECURITY GUARD IN A SUPERMARKET TO 2nd LEADER IN MLB SAVES

Tremendous journey for Robert Suárez to reach the Padres - Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

This article first appeared in Spanish in PURO BEISBOL a Mexican baseball sports digital page. We edited and translated for our English dominant readers. The original article in Spanish could be read here: PuroBeisbol


By Fernando Ballesteros

Robert Suárez, a pitcher native of Venezuela who came to work as a supermarket security guard in 2018, is currently the second leader in saves in the Major Leagues with 15 in the same number of opportunities for the San Diego Padres.

But you probably won’t believe how Suárez got here.

Robert Suarez during 2022 National League Wild Card Series vs. Mets at Citi Field – Image Credit: George Napolitano/ Latino Sports

Overwhelmed by the deep crisis in Venezuela in 2014 – where he was a bricklayer – Robert contacted a friend from Mexico to play in the Campeche State League, which is semi-professional.

He was 23 years old and came to this country without a penny to pitch as an amateur with the Red Triangle of Seibaplaya, where he stood out and was detected by a scout from the Saraperos of Saltillo in the Mexican League.

He thus debuted with the Saraperos de Saltillo the following year and finished with 5-0, 1.73 ERA and 23 saves.

A scout from Japan checked him out and he signed with the Fukuoka Falcons to also appear in 2016, but he suffered a serious injury with Venezuela in the 2017 World Classic and missed that entire season in the Japanese league.

While he was rehabilitating from the ‘Tommy John’ and despite having money saved, Suarez went out to the streets to ask for work and did so as a guard in a supermarket.

Robert Suárez playing for the Tigers of Japan. (Photo courtesy stock photo).

He returned very hungry to baseball in 2018 and spent three seasons as a reliever with the Falcons before signing a good contract with the Hanshin Tigers, with whom he saved 67 games in two years.

This is how the San Diego Padres detected him and at 31 years old they signed him for the 2022 season and 6 million dollars.

The right-hander had a great campaign (5-1 and 2.27 in 45 appearances), so that he will now earn 46 million dollars in the next five years.

HOW DID HE GET TO MEXICO?

Venezuelan Robert Suárez was a super special case in his only year in the Mexican Baseball League. He had never played professional ball and at 24 years old he arrived in 2015 to debut as a professional and as a closer with the Saraperos de Saltillo.

Suárez, a native of Bolívar, Venezuela, arrived in Mexico invited by his friend Gabriel Cañonez to play with the Triángulo Rojo Ceiba team in the Campechana State League, where he was recommended to the preseason of the Cañeros de Los Mochis –in Jalisco–, and there he was seen by the Saraperos of Saltillo.

He was then invited to the preseason of the Saraperos, who gave the closer position to Gary Majewsky and the team’s owner Nerio Rodríguez decided to send Suárez to the Northern League of Coahuila, with the Mineros de Nueva Rosita, his other team.

When Majewsky failed, Saltillo called Suárez who achieved a record of 5-0 and a 1.71 ERA in 43 games, with 23 saves resulting from a 97 mph fastball, curve, changeup and enormous control.

A year later he was already pitching in Japan with the Softbank Falcons, but he was not satisfied with being a star in the Japanese league.

And now that boy who decided to leave Venezuela for the southeast of Mexico is an MLB star.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Blanca Canino Vigo

    May 29, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    Love to read all of Latino Sports articles. It’s always full of real good stuff.

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