Top 50 Prospect Profile: Chris Snyder

<P><B>EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR</B> will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon.&nbsp; Today Managing Editor James Renwick pitches out with catching prospect <b>Chris Snyder</b>. </P>

Vital Statistics:

Name Chris Snyder
Position Catcher
Age 24
Height 6’3"
Weight 220
Bats Right
Throws Right
’04 Club Double-A El Paso Diablos (Texas League), MLB Arizona Diamondbacks

The University of Houston catcher was taken by the Diamondbacks in the second round of the 2002 draft and admired for both his offensive and defensive maturity right away. Houston has become a veritable MLB factory, seemingly producing top picks in every draft, especially with pitchers, and the experience Snyder got catching soon-to-be big leaguers definately paid off. "He's got a tremedous understanding of the game," Snyder's 2004 manager at Double-A El Paso Scott Coolbaugh said. "I got to see him right away when he was drafted and was impressed. He's a quiet kid, real smart, and some people think that's arrogance, but its just the way he approaches the game, he's willing to do whatever it takes."

Batting and Power:  "He understood what he needed to do right from the beginning, and that was to get stronger. He shows power, he's got all the potential and all the tools, and he's definately got the determination." Coolbaugh says. While he doesn't project as a 30 homer guy, he did manage to crank five dongs in just under 100 at bats after his September call up, and he's definately a kid who could hit 15 to 20 if he played everyday. One of his most appealing characteristics is his strikeout to walk ratio, while 57 Ks against 46 walks (in El Paso) doesn't exactly make him Tony Gwynn, it's far better than most Double-A players, including his competition behind the dish. A .276 hitter in just short of 1000 minor league at bats, that's probably about the most you could hope for from Snyder, but as a platoon player (Snyder hit .327 against left handed pitching in '04 while with El Paso), he might be even more productive.

'04 Clubs Avg. HR RBI At Bats K/BB
AA El Paso (Texas League) .301 15 57 346 57/46
Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) .240 5 15 96 25/13

Baserunning and Speed:  He's a catcher, so running's not the forte, but it took him more than two full seasons of minor league ball before he grounded into a double play, so at least he's not a turtle out there.

Defense:  The D'Backs have been more impressed with the way Snyder calls a game than his physical tools behind the plate, but Coolbaugh thinks some of the negatives about Snyder's movement behind the dish can be explained. "He has some set backs in '03, injuries and such, that hampered his game. His movement was better last year, and even though he doesn't have a cannon arm, it's a quick release and very accurate." After his call up last season to the Diamondbacks there were rumors that several veteran pitchers asked then manager Al Pedrique to have Snyder catch them rather than fellow rookie Koyie Hill, because Snyder seemed better in tune with what they wanted to throw.

ETA:  He's been to the show now, and Coolbaugh thinks he'll stay. "If you let him play enough he'll figure it out. At worst I see Chris having a pretty long career as a backup catcher, just because of his smarts, the way he calls a game, and his work ethic. If his bat comes along, and that's really all about strength, he'll be a pretty steady guy on any Major League team." He'll certainly get the chance, but his status in '05 will depend on a variety of factors. Hill is coming off a major ankle injury, and the Diamondbacks have signed veteran Kelly Stinnett to a minor league deal. Most feel the D'Backs would like to carry either Snyder or Hill, Stinnett, and then Robbie Hammock as their third catcher, but you can't rule out Corey Myers as a potential candidate either, because the D'Backs love his bat. Look for Snyder to bounce back and forth between Tuscon and Phoenix in '05 as the D'Backs audition the three youngsters for the role of 'catcher of the future.'

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