Already one of the best players in the Double-A Eastern League at age 20, Travis Snider has a new challenge head of him: Triple-A pitching.
The Blue Jays promoted Snider today to the International League to play for Syracuse, making Snider the youngest player in Triple-A. The Blue Jays had considered having the lefty-hitting Snider start the season in Double-A New Hampshire, but an elbow injury hampered him early on and the Jays sent him to high Class A Dunedin instead. Snider's elbow injury didn't help his swing and may have led to a few extra strikeouts, but he still batted .279/.333/.557 in 17 games with Dunedin. Snider, the top prospect in the Blue Jays system and one of the top handful of prospects in baseball, hit .262/.357/.461 in 98 games upon his promotion to New Hampshire, where he played both left and right field.
"He got in some bad habits this spring when he had his elbow injury," New Hampshire manager Gary Cathcart said. "He got into a daily routine to get it stronger and he trusts his elbow now. He's got his swing path back; he's still adjusting to this level but he's recognizing offspeed pitches a lot better. I expect those strikeouts to come down as he continues to adjust."
Snider has struggled against lefthanded pitching this year, batting .240/.299/.347 against southpaws. But that is in just 137 plate appearances. His left/right splits since he began full-season ball—122 points of OPS better vs. righties—isn't dramatcally different from the 77 point split in OPS for lefthanded hitters in the big leagues this season.
|TRAVIS SNIDER FULL-SEASON SPLITS
"The key for him is recognizing breaking balls," Cathcart said. "He's had some struggles against lefthanders, and most of his outs against lefthanders have come on breaking balls. They just throw him fastballs for show."
Given Snider's youth an the paucity of quality lefthanders he's faced so far in his young career, there shouldn't be much cause for concern. He's held his own against lefties and demolished righthanded pitching. The 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Snider becomes the second high school pick from his draft class to reach a level as high as Triple-A—Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, the No. 7 pick, has already reached the big leagues, though he never spent any time in Triple-A.
Contributing: John Manuel