Snider Slugging Away In Double-A

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Having managed Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider last year in low Class A Lansing and again this year with Double-A New Hampshire, Gary Cathcart knows how intense Snider can get.

"He's a ferocious competitor," Cathcart said. "I mean, I had to take him out of the game about a month ago because he got hit in the on-deck circle by a foul ball that grazed his helmet. That's an organizational thing: someone gets hit in the head, you take him out and get him checked out, make sure he's OK. I mean, he wanted to fight me in the dugout. I let him go out to left field the next day and I took him out—he wanted to fight me.

"But he's tremendously competitive. I've seen him stand up to a couple of his teammates for doing some stuff that you would expect a veteran guy to do. He understands what's right and what's wrong in this game even though he's only in his second full season. So he does have a lot of leadership qualities and the guys really feed off of him, the way he does his business. He's a clown in the afternoon when we're out stretching, taking BP and all that—he has a good time—but when it's time to play the game, when those lights go on, you're talking about a really competitive kid."

Early in the season, an elbow injury hampered Snider, affecting his swing and his ability to make contact. The elbow injury got Snider into some bat habits, and it took him some time before he was able to smooth out his swing again.

In April, Snider struck out 40 times in 105 plate appearances between high Class A Dunedin and New Hampshire, a punchout in 38 percent of his at-bats. Since then, Snider has 84 strikeouts in 309 plate appearances (26 percent).

"You look at the strikeouts and they're a little high, and that'll come down as he gets more experience," Cathcart said. "But he's just one of those guys, no matter if he's hitting .210 or .310, he's just always productive."

While Snider is putting the ball in play more now than he did in April, nobody's confusing him for Howie Kendrick. And for a power-hitter like Snider, who at age 20 is still just the third-youngest player in the Eastern League, the strikeouts don't hinder his overall production of getting on base and hitting for power.

Through 313 at-bats with New Hampshire, Snider is batting .265/.348/.463. His .811 OPS is 70 points higher than the league average OPS of .741, even though the average age of a player in the EL is four to five years older than Snider. That performance led to a spot on the EL all-star team and in the home run derby, which Snider won with some homers that were literally light-tower shots in his home park.

"He has tremendous understanding of everything around him for a 20-year-old kid," Cathcart said. "I have to keep telling myself, because once in a while he'll do some stuff that reminds you that he's 20. But baseball-wise, for the most part, he's pretty far beyond his years."