JUPITER, Fla. - His nickname was "Gob," which seems apt considering Garland Buckeye on his Baseball Reference page is listed at 6-feet, 260 pounds. During a five-year major league career, Buckeye logged an unspectacular 30-39 record with three different teams.
Yet according to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, Buckeye is the only pitcher in history measuring no more than 6-feet and weighing 230 or more pounds to record at least one save. He did it as a member of the Indians in 1927.
The Marlins have a kid in spring training who potentially could become the second.
The word "bulldog" comes up plenty with Colby Suggs. As with most pitchers, it's meant to characterize his mound presence. In Suggs' case, it also describes his build. The Marlins' 2013 supplemental second-round pick out of Arkansas, Suggs is listed at 5-11, 230.
While the Razorbacks recruited Suggs as a two-way player, it quickly became apparent Suggs was better at throwing curveballs than hitting them. He focused on pitching and it paid off. His blow-the-doors-off approach helped him set the school's single-season save mark in 2013 as a junior.
"I just couldn't see any of those good curveballs that I wasn't used to seeing in east Texas baseball," said Suggs, a product of Sulphur Springs, Tex. "They let us take BP every now and then and I'd show a little bit of power, but other than that I don't really hit."
He throws. Hard. Suggs fastball registers in the mid- to upper-90s. He also features a power curve that gives hitters fits.
In his first pro season, Suggs logged an impressive 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. In 27 1/3 innings, most of which he tossed for advanced-A Jupiter, Suggs could boast a 33.3 percent strikeout rate and 51.8 percent groundball rate.
"My curve is my put-away pitch, but I'm working on setting it up a little differently and trying to confuse hitters a little more," Suggs said. "Earlier in the count I can slow it down and just drop it in there for a strike. I feel like I have that kind of command on it. Later in the count I definitely want to amp it up and bury it a little bit. I have to learn not to over-compete with the curveball because I tend to do that a lot more with it than the fastball."
The blemishes on Suggs' first-year stat line came in the control categories. He walked 5.9 batters per nine for a 15.8 percent walk rate. Suggs knows any future as a closer hinges on those numbers shrinking. He attributes the control issues to over-throwing.
"Every time I would go out and try to do better, better, better I kept pressing," Suggs said. "Finally I had to sit down, take a deep breath and say, 'You know what, let's just go out there and execute, and finish pitches and pound the strike zone.' Toward the end of the year it started to get a lot better in that aspect."
Added minor league pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal: "When he first came to us he pitched up in the zone and had a power curveball. In college, you swing at that power curveball in the dirt where now guys aren't swinging at it as much. He's getting better with his fastball command. Once he gets that, his curveball will get better. It's just a matter of corralling his stuff, which is pretty good."
And while the body type isn't text-book, that won't deter Suggs from pursing closer history.
"I feel like I'm suited for that role just because of the mentality I bring whenever I'm in the game," he said. "Everybody says, 'You're a bulldog,' that kind of stuff. That's really a compliment to me and the way I was raised by my father. He would beat me down in basketball. He was 6-5 and I'm only 5-11. Having that fire and will to win is really what you need to be a closer."