- Full name Blake Ashton Snell
- Born 12/04/1992 in Seattle, WA
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Shorewood
- Debut 04/23/2016
Drafted in the C-A round (52nd overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 (signed for $684,000).
View Draft ReportSnell is a long and lean 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, but he has narrow, sloping shoulders and may always be skinny, and scouts don't see anywhere to put a lot of added weight on his frame. His fastball sits between 88-92 mph, and he has touched 94 this season. While that grades out as an average fastball, scouts question whether he'll be able to maintain that velocity over a full minor league season because of his frame. His curveball and changeup are just average at best. Snell has performed well this season and wasn't fazed when there were 40-50 scouts behind the backstop. Snell was home schooled until this year and was committed to Washington's banner class, but he has not yet qualified academically, which may make him more signable. Because of his signability, his velocity and how well he has performed in front of crosscheckers, Snell could get popped as high as the supplemental first round, though on pure talent he would probably go a few rounds later.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The 2011 draft was viewed as a golden opportunity for the Rays to restock their system. The organization owned 12 of the top 100 picks in that draft, and while many of those picks have failed to live up to their draft-day promise, Snell's emergence gives the class a muchneeded boost. Tampa Bay selected him 52nd overall (with the fourth of seven supplemental first-round picks) and signed him for $684,000 out of a Seattle-area high school. Previously known for his projectable frame and three-pitch potential, Snell took his stuff to another level in 2015. His command, which had held him back in the past, also made strides. The southpaw finished 2014 at high Class A Charlotte, and he began 2015 with the Stone Crabs before 21 scoreless innings earned him a promotion to Double-A Montgomery. There, Snell continued to run up zeroes until his streak stopped at 49 scoreless innings. A late-July promotion to Triple-A Durham followed, and Snell led all minor league starters with a 1.41 ERA, ranked second with a .182 opponent average and fourth with 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He went 15-4 across three levels and earned the BA Minor League Player of the Year award. Prior to 2015, Snell's fastball peaked at 94 mph and sat comfortably in the low 90s, giving him plenty of velocity for a lefthander. In 2015, his velocity ticked up, and he sat at 93-94 mph with the ability to reach as high as 97. His fastball maintained its late sinking action, too, making it a devastating pitch when he is able to spot it down in the zone. Snell's changeup--which had earned praise as a potential above-average pitch--evolved into a bat-missing offering. He has feel for his late-fading change, which earns plus grades from scouts and gives him a weapon to use against righthanded batters. His slider, previously thought to be his best secondary pitch, shows sharp horizontal break down and away from lefthanded batters. Snell also throws a 12-to-6 curveball, though it is more of a supplement to his arsenal than a true weapon. If he can command his powerful stuff, he has a chance to be an impact starter. Before his magical 2015 campaign, Snell struggled with control, walking 4.4 batters per nine innings in 2014 and 6.6 per nine in 2013. He cut his walk rate to 3.6 per nine in 2015 and struck out more than four batters per walk. The Rays considered calling up Snell in September, but he had already thrown a careerhigh 134 innings. Additionally, the major league team was not in the thick of the playoff race, so Snell's season ended in Triple-A, though he joined the 40-man roster in November. If Snell's command continues to trend in the right direction, he could ascend to the big league rotation in 2016, where his top-shelf stuff and improved strike-throwing ability give him a ceiling of a No. 2 starter. Look for him to earn an in-season callup from Durham but spend most of 2016 in the big league rotation, where he will complement a deep rotation headed by Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Matt Moore.
The Rays have limited Snell's innings since he was the 52nd overall pick in 2011 and allowed him to eclipse the century mark last year for the first time. Tampa Bay sent Snell back to low Class A Bowling Green to open the 2014 slate, giving him more time to mature physically and mentally, before promoting him to high Class A Charlotte. He finished second in the organization in ERA and third in strikeouts. The Rays love the way Snell battles on the mound, and he has developed a more advanced feel for pitching. His best pitch is an 83-84 mph slider that could be a plus offering once he adds a little more depth to it. Snell's velocity showed improvement last year. His heavy fastball resides in the low 90s, peaking at 94 mph, and has good late sinking action. He flashes an above-average changeup that has solid-average fade and depth. Pitching from the extreme third-base side of the rubber, Snell threw more strikes in 2014 but still has a walk rate too high to remain a starter. He struggles on occasion to repeat his mechanics with his stiff front leg. The organization's pitcher of the year, Snell is a potential middle-of-the-rotation pitcher in the big leagues and should make the move to Double-A this season.
The Rays have been patient with Snell since drafting him with the 52nd overall pick in 2011. One of several Tampa Bay prospects from the Pacific Northwest, he has projection to spare but still is learning how to pitch while growing into his body. The Rays shut him down in mid-August 2012, just seven innings shy of qualifying for the Rookie-level Appalachian League ERA title, and then kept him under 100 innings in 2013 at low Class A Bowling Green. Snell has an above-average fastball with good sink that touches 94 mph. He mixes his heater with a low-80s slider that flashes plus to limit lefthanders in the Midwest League to a .200 average. He also has a good changeup that could become a plus offering, and a curveball that continues to improve. Snell struggled with his control and ranked third in the MWL in walks (73) last year, but scouts believe he should be able to reduce that number as he repeats his delivery more consistently. He has done a better job of focusing on getting outs early in the count and should register a more groundball outs at higher levels due to the solid sinking action of all his offerings. Snell could be a solid No. 3 starter if he refines all of his pitches, and he should make the move to high Class A Charlotte in 2014.
The Rays' sixth pick (52nd overall) in the 2011 draft, Snell has surged past all the players they took ahead of him except for Taylor Guerrieri. He has compiled a 2.44 ERA while being kept on tight pitch counts in two years of pro ball. He would have led the Appalachian League with a 2.09 ERA in 2012 if he hadn't fallen seven innings short of qualifying because Tampa Bay shut him down with fatigue in mid-August. Snell's fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94 mph with good sinking action that results in a lot of groundouts. His low-80s slider is tough on lefthanders when he throws it for strikes. His curveball and changeup lag behind his other two pitches and require plenty of work, but his biggest need is to add strength to his lanky frame in order to handle the wear and tear of a full season. Snell still is learning that strikeouts aren't everything, and that he can reduce his pitch counts if he's more efficient. Though he's slow to the plate, he gave up just one steal in four attempts over 11 starts in 2012. Scouts like Snell's arm and projectable body, and they see a potential No. 3 starter on the verge of a breakthrough. The Rays will be conservative with his development, so his next stop could be Hudson Valley.
Homeschooled until his senior year of high school, Snell attracted lots of interest when his sinking fastball touched 94 mph last spring. The Rays took him with their seventh choice (52nd overall) in the 2011 draft and signed him for $684,000. In his pro debut, Snell showed the ability to get groundouts by keeping his 88-92 mph sinker down in the zone. Some scouts question whether he'll add much more velocity, because he has narrow, sloping shoulders and a wiry frame. He relies heavily on his fastball and will need to improve both his curveball and changeup, both of which grade as below average. He has tried different grips on his secondary pitches, and he'll have to use them and throw them for strikes more often. A potential No. 3 or 4 starter, Snell showed impressive mound presence while having the best debut among the top picks Tampa Bay sent to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer. The Rays traditionally handle high school pitchers with care, so he'll probably move up one level to Princeton for 2012.
Minor League Top Prospects
Snell ended his whirlwind 2015 Minor League Player of the Year campaign at Durham, and returned to the Bulls to start this season. He picked up where he left off on the mound and made his major league debut with a spot start in April. By mid-June, he had taken over a spot in the Rays' rotation. Snell uses a four-pitch mix to attack hitters. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, peaking at 97 mph. His curveball has surpassed his slider as his primary (and more effective) breaking ball. His plus changeup continues to be his most effective secondary offering. Snell worked to refine his fastball command this year and, though his walk rate rose in Tampa Bay, he made important progress. He is the Rays' latest homegrown pitching prospect to graduate, and his overall package is good enough to keep him in their strong rotation.
Snell began the season as a wild, but tantalizing, lefthander with no high-minors experience, but he ended the campaign as the Minor League Player of the Year after ranking as the SL's finest pitching prospect and reaching Triple-A Durham in late July. He didn't allow a run in his first eight appearances of the season, the first four at high Class A Charlotte, as he marched to a minor league ERA title with an overall mark of 1.41 that only Justin Verlander (1.29 in 2005) has surpassed in the past 23 seasons. Snell throws a plus fastball that sits at 93 mph and can bump 96. That velocity and life allows him to work up in the zone when warranted. His plus changeup is so effective that he can double- and triple-up on the pitch to get back into counts or put batters away. Just as encouragingly, Snell sharpened his breaking ball and incorporated a cutter in 2015, both in an effort to attack the legion of righthanders he will see from here on out. All of his pitches come out of the same arm slot and look to the batter like his fastball. Snell's athleticism and controlled delivery allowed him to throw more strikes this season--he walked 3.6 batters per nine innings at three levels--than he had since Rookie ball in 2012. He profiles as a strong No. 2 starter, with the only criticism being that he leans more on raw stuff than pitchability.
Add Snell to the list of hard-throwing lefthanders who have passed through Princeton in recent years. Past alumni include Matt Moore (2008), Enny Romero (2010) and Felipe Rivero (2011), who like Snell all had fastballs that sat in the low 90s when they ranked among the Appy League's finest. Snell attacks the strike zone with his heater, which tops out at 95 mph, and a trio of offspeed pitches he's sorting through. His low-80s slider is probably his No. 2 offering, and it helped him limit Appy lefties to two hits in 20 at-bats with 10 strikeouts. His changeup and curveball are close to average and need further refinement. Snell runs up high pitch counts because, like many young pitchers, he tries to strike out as many batters as possible. The Rays shut down him with general fatigue following his Aug. 18 start, so he fell just short of qualifying for the ERA title. His ERA (2.09) and strikeout rate (10.1 per nine innings) ranked second among Appy pitchers with at least 40 innings.
The Rays had 11 of the first 75 selections in the 2011 draft and sent four of those top picks to the GCL. Snell had the best debut of any of them, relying on throwing his 88-92 mph fastball down in the strike zone to induce groundballs. Drafted one spot after Bichette, Snell has a long, skinny frame but also has narrow shoulders, so scouts aren't certain if he'll be able to add velocity and some question his durability. His curveball and changeup are average pitches but need more consistency. He'll also have to throw more strikes.
Top 100 Rankings
Background: The Rays' sixth pick (52 overall) in the 2011 draft, Snell has surged past all the players they took ahead of him except for Taylor Guerrieri. He has compiled a 2.44 ERA while being kept on tight pitch counts in two years of pro ball. He would have led the Appalachian League with a 2.09 ERA in 2012 if he hadn't fallen seven innings short of qualifying because Tampa Bay shut him down with fatigue in mid-August. Scouting Report: Snell's fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94 mph with good sinking action that results in lot of groundouts. His low-80s slider is tough on lefthanders when he throws it for strikes. His curveball and changeup lag behind his other two pitches and require plenty of work, but his biggest need is to add strength to his lanky frame in order to handle the wear and tear of a full season. Snell still is learning that strikeouts aren't everything, and that he can reduce his pitch counts if he's more efficient. Though he's slow to the plate, he gave up just one steal in four attempts over 11 starts in 2012. The Future: Scouts like Snell's arm and projectable body, and they see a potential No. 3 starter on the verge of a breakthrough. The Rays will be conservative with his development, so his next stop could be Hudson Valley.