Suzuki with Minnesota Twins
|Atlanta Braves – No. 24|
Born: October 4, 1983|
|June 12, 2007, for the Oakland Athletics|
|MLB statistics |
(through July 13, 2018)
|Runs batted in||601|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kurtis Kiyoshi Suzuki (Japanese: 鈴木 清 Hepburn: Suzuki Kiyoshi, born October 4, 1983), is an American professional baseball catcher for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, and Minnesota Twins. Prior to playing professionally, Suzuki attended Cal State Fullerton and won the Johnny Bench Award and Brooks Wallace Award.
Suzuki was born to Warren and Kathleen Suzuki in Wailuku, Hawaii and attended Henry Perrine Baldwin High School from which he graduated in 2001. Suzuki was mentored as a youth by Hawaiian MLB scout Walter Isamu Komatsubara. He managed a .328 batting average as a senior at Baldwin.
Suzuki attended California State University, Fullerton, where he played college baseball for the Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team. Cal State Fullerton appeared in the 2003 College World Series and captured the 2004 College World Series championship, thanks to Suzuki's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Titans a 3-2 win over the Texas Longhorns.
That same year, he won the Johnny Bench Award as the country's top collegiate catcher. He was also selected All-American by two publications, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was also the recipient of the first ever Brooks Wallace Award.
Draft and minor leagues
The Athletics drafted Suzuki in the second round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft and assigned him to the Single-A Vancouver Canadians, where he batted .297 and committed just one error in 46 games.
His first full season of professional baseball came in 2005, with another Single-A team, the Stockton Ports. Playing in 114 games, Suzuki put up a .277 average, 12 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .440 slugging percentage.
Suzuki joined the major league club on June 9, 2007 after rarely used catcher Adam Melhuse was traded to the Texas Rangers and made his debut three days later as a pinch hitter in a game against the Houston Astros.
He served as backup to veteran Jason Kendall until Kendall was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 16, making Suzuki the Athletics everyday catcher. On July 17, 2007, pitcher Shane Komine got into a game in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers with Suzuki doing the catching. This marked the first time in major league baseball history that there was a battery where both players were from Hawaii.
For the 2008 season, Suzuki was the starting catcher while Rob Bowen served as back-up. In the first 20 regular season games, Suzuki started 18. He ended the season with a .279 batting average in 148 games.
During the 2009 season, Suzuki had a career high 15 home runs, and 88 RBIs, and batted .274 in 147 games. Suzuki led the A's in RBIs, and became only the second catcher in the franchise's history to do so. He also led the team in hits (156), doubles (37), and total bases (240) and was second in home runs and runs scored behind teammate Jack Cust.
On July 23, 2010, Suzuki signed a four-year extension with the Oakland Athletics, estimated to be worth $16.25 million. At the end of the 2010 season, Suzuki ended with a .242 average with 13 home runs and 71 RBI's. The following season, he hit .237 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI's.
Return to Oakland
Suzuki was named to the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, finishing up the game with his Twins battery-mate, Glen Perkins. He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the team on July 31, 2014. In his first season with Minnesota, he hit a career high .288 with 3 home runs and 61 RBI's. The following season he hit .240 with 5 home runs and 50 RBI's. In 2016, he hit .258 with 8 home runs but had his season shortened due to injury.
On January 30, 2017, Suzuki signed a one-year contract for $1.5 million with the Atlanta Braves. He set a career high in home runs that season, hitting 19 in 276 at-bats, while serving as Tyler Flowers' backup for most of the year. On September 23, 2017, Suzuki and the Braves agreed to a one-year extension worth $3.5 million.
Suzuki is a fourth generation Japanese American. He was raised in Maui and graduated from Baldwin High School. He and his wife Renee Suzuki (along with Orlando and Katie Cabrera) have helped out a former Titan catcher Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the car crash that killed Nick Adenhart. Suzuki has a daughter named Malia, after whose birth he took a brief paternity leave in April 2011.
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- Campany, Jerry (June 17, 2003). "Baldwin alumnus Suzuki living his dream at CWS". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- Lewis, Ferd (29 July 2010). "'Mr. Komatsubara' would have loved to see Suzuki get his due". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- "Suzuki saluted with major award". USA Today. 2004-09-16. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- Sherrington, Kevin (October 24, 2004). "Memories get refreshed: New college award honors shortstop no one forgot". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 2, 2013.(subscription required)
- "Boxscore: Oakland vs. Houston - June 12, 2007 | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Melhuse traded to Texas | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Major League Baseball Stats | oaklandathletics.com: Stats". MLB.com. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- Slusser, Susan (July 23, 2010). "Suzuki signed to four-year, $16.25 million contract – more details". SFgate.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- Nationals Press Release (August 3, 2012). "Nationals acquire catcher Kurt Suzuki from Athletics". MLB.com.
- Wagner, James (2013-06-16). "Kurt Suzuki's production since Wilson Ramos' injury". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "MLB Ejection 032: John Tumpane (1; Kurt Suzuki)." Close Call Sports/Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. May 12, 2013.
- Slusser, Susan (August 22, 2013). "Kurt Suzuki rejoining A's; his comments plus trade details". SFGate.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- Bollinger, Rhett (December 2013). "Twins make deals with Suzuki, Pelfrey official". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- "Twins sign Pelfrey and Suzuki". MLB.com. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Bollinger, Rhett (July 31, 2014). "Twins sign Suzuki to two-year contract extension". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Bowman, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Braves make Suzuki signing official". MLB.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- "Kurt Suzuki". ESPN. 2017-11-05. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
- Bowman, Mark (September 21, 2017). "Surprising Suzuki sets career high in homers". MLB.com. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
- Bowman, Mark (September 23, 2017). "Braves, Suzuki agree to 1-year contract". MLB.com. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- Caple, Jim (April 22, 2011). "The Ichiro-Matsui relationship". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- "From Maui to the Majors | News, Sports, Jobs - Maui News". www.mauinews.com. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- Bill Shaikin (2009-07-19). "Jon Wilhite doesn't take life for granted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Kurt Suzuki back after birth of daughter". ESPN.com. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
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