Hot Rod of the Day 4/9/14: Blake Snell

By Fletcher Keel

In our first weekend of Hot Rod of the Day, we have chronicled those Bowling Green players that, essentially, were the MVP in the most recent game. Unfortunately, last night’s 3-0 loss to the Burlington Bees, there wasn’t much good to talk about anywhere. But starting into yesterday’s game and having a decent outing was arguably the biggest prospect on this year’s Hot Rods squad: 2011 supplemental first round pick Blake Snell.

Snell made his first appearance of 2014 last night, and went 4.1 innings, allowing just two hits, two walks and struck out seven. Snell was dealing through 3 innings, only allowing one hit, and had a shutout going after four. However, the Bees would get two runs in the bottom of the 5th, and that would spell the end of the night for him as he would get tagged with the loss.

The book on Snell is that he has two pitches that he can throw with relative ease–a good sinking fastball that can get up to 94 MPH, as well as a low-80’s slider that is devastating to lefties . His other two pitches, his changeup and curveball, are still works in progress but also have considerable potential. When he first pitched to pro hitters, he was working deep into counts, but as he has grown and moved up, he is getting more early-count outs, and is gaining a reputation as a groundball pitcher. That being said, Snell did walk 6.6 batters per 9 inning last season and still has plenty of work to do refining his control of all his pitches.

In some regards, Blake Snell returning to Bowling Green to start 2014 is a bit surprising–until we remember how careful the Rays are with their pitching prospects. The Rays have put limits on Snell’s pitching each of the past two seasons, shutting him down in the middle of August in 2012 (while he was only seven innings short of qualifying for the Advanced Rookie Rookie Appalachian League ERA crown), and he was kept under 100 innings of work in Bowling Green a year ago. The Rays know how talented a pitcher they have in Snell, and they have nothing to gain trying to rush him. That being said, if Snell puts together a month’s worth of outings like he is capable, he is on the fast track for a call up to Charlotte. So, if you’re in the Bowling Green area, enjoy watching him while you can because he could be gone before long.