Past experiences perfectly prepared Kyle Snyder to be Rays’ pitching coach
By George Curcio
In 1999, Kyle Snyder was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals, and the seventh pick overall in the draft. He was drafted ahead of Brett Myers, Barry Zito, and Ben Sheets. Unlike Zito and Sheets, Snyder never made a major-league All-Star team. In fact, when his career ended after five years in the majors, Snyder had never had a winning record.
But he did have arm troubles. In 2001, he was sidelined an entire season having to recover from Tommy John surgery. He experienced four trips to the disabled list from 2003 until 2005. He again missed an entire season in 2004 when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
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The Royals eventually gave up on him. After stints with the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets organizations, he retired after the 2009 season as yet another first-round draft pick who never achieved the greatness that was forecast for him.
How Kyle Snyder Impacts the Tampa Bay Rays
Snyder’s experiences with injuries make him perfectly suited for the job he has held for the past four seasons. As pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, Snyder has helped manager Kevin Cash navigate through a record-setting season that has totally transformed the Rays’ bullpen.
Injuries have placed 17 pitchers on the Injured List this year, and members of the bullpen have changed radically from the start of the season.
Despite all those forced changes, statistics show the Rays’ pitching staff is one of the best in baseball, and the bullpen is a major contributor to that.
All the changes have not been forced by injury. In a move that made many Rays’ fans scratch their heads, General Manager Erik Neander sent closer Diego Castillo to the Seattle Managers for reliever JT Chargois and minor-league infielder Austin Shenton. In 12 appearances with the Rays, Chargois is 4-0 with a 0.71 ERA. Castillo has appeared in ten games for the Mariners but is 0-1 with an ERA of 3.86.
Kyle Snyder’s contribution to the Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays’ goal all season has been to keep fresh arms in the bullpen, leading to a shuttle between Tampa and Triple-A Durham. It is not uncommon to see a reliever recalled to the Rays, make an appearance, and then be sent back down to the minors, with another reliever being recalled to take his place.
Not to be overlooked in all of this is Snyder’s contribution as the team’s pitching coach, and his ability to relate to his players and understand the effect that is weighing upon them. Nor should Neander’s ability as GM to constantly make steak from hamburgers, as the Rays have done many times when acquisitions surpass any level of previous success.