By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. – They say everybody has a story and Curve outfielder Jerrick Suiter’s is unique.
Besides having an outstanding baseball career at TCU, Suiter was a deaf education major in college and wants to help deaf children when his baseball days are over.
“My dad’s side of the family is all deaf – my grandparents, some aunts, uncles, cousins – so I kind of had a leg up on sign language,” Suiter was saying recently at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “I thought it would be easy for me to do well in school, and I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.
“I think it would be cool to coach those kids.”
Suiter grew up in Valparaiso, Ind., was a four-year letter winner in high school and was named Male Athlete of the Year in 2011 by the Indiana Times.
“I lived there all my life,” Suiter said. “Both of my parents went to Valparaiso and my dad played basketball there.
“I played football, basketball and baseball in high school,” said Suiter, who won 11 varsity letters. “I played football and baseball one year at TCU, but got hurt in football and decided to stick with baseball. However, I think playing three sports made me the athlete I am today.”
He was drafted out of high school in the 35th round by the Toronto Blue Jays as a pitcher, but chose to attend TCU.
Suiter’s top four college choices were TCU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Alabama. TCU and Vandy were the only two to offer the deaf education course and that played a role in his decision.
“Plus, I wanted to go south to play baseball because of the warm weather,” he said. “And, I fell in love with Fort Worth, Texas. That’s where I want to spend the rest of my life after baseball.”
At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Suiter looks like a power hitter, but he didn’t show much power in college. “I had shoulder surgery my sophomore year at TCU and played the outfield after that,” he noted.
As a junior, he hit .364 in the Big 12 Tournament and earned Most Outstanding Player honors. He finished his TCU career with a .262 average, 59 hits, 19 doubles and three triples in 138 games after playing every position except second base and shortstop.
Selected by the Pirates in the 26th round of the 2014 MLB draft, he went to rookie-level Bristol and batted 279 in 55 games with just one homer. In 2015, Suiter batted .299 with three homers and 57 RBIs in 105 games at low-A West Virginia.
Promoted to advanced-A Bradenton in 2016, Suiter played first base for the Florida State League-champion Marauders, hit .265 with five homers and 63 RBIs in 118 games.
He’s played well in Altoona, too. As of July 27, Suiter was among the Curve leaders with a .307 average, seven homers and 39 RBIs.
“I’ve made a couple adjustments with (hitting coach) Kevin Riggs, and that’s definitely helped me,” Suiter said of his power numbers. “My approach has changed a little.
“My first couple weeks here, I wasn’t playing well or barreling the ball,” he said. “Now, it’s coming along and my numbers are getting better.”
Suiter is looking forward to the Eastern League’s stretch run.
“Our division is a battle and will come down to who wants it more,” he said. “I love this team to death. A lot of us have been together for three years and we’ll do everything to make a run for the championship.”
Curve manager Michael Ryan thinks Suiter’s best baseball is ahead of him.
“He’s big and physical and is starting to show more power,” Ryan said. “He’s working hard on his approach and it’s getting better.”