HT: 6-2 WT: 205 POS: 1B/3B
Delmarva Shorebirds- (118 G, 448 AB, .283/.354/.422)
Brandon Snyder was a first round pick in 2005, but he has seen a lot of highs and lows since being drafted. After a promising debut as a catcher in 2005, Snyder struggled through a horrific season in 2006. He didn't hit in low-A Delmarva, didn't hit after a demotion to short-season Aberdeen, and then had his season ended by a torn labrum. Worse yet, there were rumblings that Snyder wasn't thrilled with the organization's handling of his injury.
2007, however, saw the maturation of Snyder as a legitimate prospect. Switched to first base and designated hitter duties to take the pressure off of his healing shoulder, Snyder didn't dominate in a return engagement to Delmarva, but he did improve as the season wore on. By the time his assignment to Hawaii Winter Baseball came along, he was raking to the tune of a .378/.398/.544 batting line. It was difficult to witness his offensive revival and not come away impressed with him as a hitter and, just as importantly, as a perseverant young man.
Snyder has reworked his approach and is now a pretty aggressive hitter. He has good pop to all fields now and projects to have plus power. His batting average will probably not be very high at the highest level - even in Hawaii he struck out 23 times in 90 at bats - but Snyder is exactly the type of hitter that is capable of boosting his on base skills with a healthy walk rate as he learns to balance his approach. He already shows a good load and balance against breaking balls.
Snyder is a below-average runner and will never be much of a threat to swipe a bag, but he's no base-clogger either. He's equally tough against lefties and righties and he sported an impressive .303/.354/.452 batting line away from the harsh confines of Perdue Stadium.
Snyder was never a safe bet to stay at catcher and with a serious injury in his past and Matt Wieters now in the system, he is certain to stay away from donning the tools of ignorance. He played first base in Delmarva, but he got some work in at third base in Hawaii. He has enough athleticism to make it work and is likely a better bet than Billy Rowell to remain at the hot corner. He has average arm strength and with more time to improve his footwork, he could be an average third baseman in the future. If that doesn't work out, expect him to get work in left field. Snyder and Rowell are now on the same promotion schedule and finding a way for both of them to get work at the same position could prove to be a challenge.
Snyder will open 2008 in high-A Frederick and he'll have an opportunity to earn a promotion to double-A Bowie. With the shoulder injury behind him and a renewed focus, Snyder remains one of the system's top breakout candidates. There's a reason he was drafted 13th overall and he still has the tools to become an above-average regular at a position to be determined.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com