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Rays prospect Blake Snell: 40 scoreless innings

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Blake Snell
Blake Snell
Bryan Green

Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Blake Snell threw seven shutout innings yesterday, May 12, for Double-A Montgomery. He also threw six shutout innings on May 5th. And six on May 1st and six more on April 26th and four more on April 20th and five more on April 14th and six more on April 9th.

Snell has now thrown 40 innings this year between High-A Charlotte and Montgomery over five starts and two relief appearances. His ERA is 0.00 and he hasn't given up any unearned runs, either. Overall he's given up just 16 hits (and zero homers obviously) in those 40 innings with a 48/16 K/BB. Now, there has to be some luck and good defensive support involved here, but the FIPs (based on his component ratios) are still excellent at 2.24 for Charlotte and 1.98 for Montgomery. He's pitching great even if you try to squeeze defense and good fortune out of the picture.

Snell was a supplemental first round pick in 2011 out of high school in Shoreline, Washington. He's progressed slowly but steadily through the system (as the Rays are wont to do with their high school pitching drafts), spending 2012 in rookie ball, 2013 in Low-A, and splitting 2014 between Low-A and High-A. He posted a 3.94 ERA with a 77/37 K/BB in 75 innings in High-A last season, though his FIP was rather better at 3.19.

His low-90s fastball has good sinking action and helps make him a pronounced ground ball pitcher. His change-up is reportedly very improved over the last year and a half, and his slider is generally solid. He's also made strides making his mechanics more consistent, enhancing his command.

This Fangraphs video is from last summer but gives the general idea:

This MilB.com video is from yesterday and features a center field angle.

This is the report from the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book:

Blake Snell still has a 90-94 MPH fastball. He can put some sink and cuttish action on it and complements the heat with a traditional hard slider, very effective against lefties. His change-up improved last year and is now a useable third pitch, and for the time being he can certainly remain a starting pitcher. To fill that role in the majors he will need tighter command, something he shows occasionally but not consistently. The sabermetrics line up well with the scouting reports: good ground ball rate, few homers, good strikeout rate, a few too many free passes, all exactly what you would expect with the scouting reports. Upside: mid-rotation starter with middle relief and/or LOOGY the fallback. He is still riding the edge between C+ and Grade B-.

I did not have Snell in my top 175 prospects list entering the season, though he was listed as "In the Picture."

Although it is still too early in the season to massively change his ranking, Snell has made enough progress to bump up a half-notch to a Grade B and move him off any sort of edge-riding, with higher rankings possible by the end of the year if he maintains a successful pace and if the scouting reports remain positive. His slot in the 175 will be reviewed and revised at mid-season, but he has to be headed into the Top 100 at least.