Scouting Rangers Prospect #25: Ben Snyder

Whether or not Ben Snyder ever throws a pitch in a Texas Rangers uniform still remains to be seen, but he has the ability to become a solid situational left-handed reliever. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 24-year-old prospect with a feature article and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ben Snyder
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: July 20, 1985
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 224
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Acquired: Via trade with Chris Ray for Kevin Millwood – after being selected by Baltimore from San Francisco in 2009 Rule 5 Draft

The first portion of this article is slightly altered from the version that originally appeared on the day of the Rule 5 Draft, in an interview with Snyder. The original link can be found between the feature story and the scouting report.

The Texas Rangers acquired left-handed pitcher Ben Snyder over the offseason via trade with the Baltimore Orioles.

Snyder was shipped to the Rangers with reliever Chris Ray to complete a trade that sent veteran starter Kevin Millwood to Baltimore. The southpaw began the day as a member of the San Francisco Giants organization–as he had been since 2006–but the Orioles selected him with the third pick in the Rule 5 Draft before dealing him to Texas.

Because Snyder was selected in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, he joins the Rangers' 40-man roster, and he will have to spend the entire 2010 campaign in the Major Leagues [and must be on the active roster for at least 90 days] for him to remain Rangers property.

A product of Ball State University, Snyder was San Francisco's fourth-round selection in the 2006 MLB Draft. He worked his way through the lower levels as a starting pitcher, and he posted a 28-9 career record with a 2.41 earned-run average in 302.2 career innings between short-season Salem-Keizer, Single-A August, and High-A San Jose.

It wasn't until the second half of the 2008 season, when Snyder received a promotion to Double-A Connecticut, that he experienced his first real struggles in professional baseball. In 13 appearances (12 starts) with the Defenders, Snyder had a 5.98 ERA and he surrendered nine home runs in just 61.2 innings.

The Giants elected to convert their 24-year-old prospect into a reliever in 2009, and the move paid major dividends. Snyder logged 97 innings on the season at Double-A–mostly pitching in long relief–and he limited opposing hitters to just 82 hits while walking 38 and striking out 86.

The 6-foot-2, 224-pound hurler missed some time after being drilled in the head with a line drive in a game at Bowie on July 28. However, he appeared just over two weeks later, pitching three innings out of the bullpen against Akron.

Snyder joins the Rangers' organization as a relief pitcher, and he will likely be called upon as sort of a left-handed specialist. Due to his deception and above-average slider, he has been a nightmare for left-handed hitters throughout his career.

Through his 461.1 career professional innings, lefties are just 95-for-519 [.183 average] against him, and he limited them to a remarkable .146 clip in 2009.

Snyder is currently competing for a spot in the Rangers' bullpen, although things are a tad complicated. As of now, Darren Oliver appears to be the only lefty locked in to the club's opening day ‘pen.

Although C.J. Wilson is experimenting with starting this spring, he is likely to end up in the bullpen as well. Assuming Wilson is in the ‘pen, Snyder would be the third left-handed pitcher.

There are many factors still left to be determined before the Rangers' opening day bullpen is set, and only time will tell if Snyder can make the final cut.

Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes (March 5, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (March 4, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (February 11, 2010)
Snyder looking to impress in camp (December 10, 2009)

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: While Snyder doesn't have an overpowering fastball, he locates it well–particularly to left-handed hitters. Snyder generally throws his fastball between 86-89 mph, but the pitch plays up against lefties because he hides the ball extremely well and comes from a deceptive low three-quarters angle.

He currently commands his fastball much better to left-handers than he does to righties. At times, Snyder seems like a different pitcher when facing right-handed hitters. It may not matter much, as he profiles as a situational lefty, but he'll need to do a better job of spotting his fastball to right-handers for him to carve out a Major League career.

Other Pitches: Snyder's mid-to-upper 70s sweeping slider is a legitimate plus pitch, and it's a large part of what makes him so tough on fellow left-handed hitters. With the aforementioned arm slot, lefty hitters are generally unable to pick up the pitch out of the hand, and they have trouble hitting it as it slides away. During his Spring Training outings thus far, Snyder has done a good job of both throwing it for strikes when necessary and placing it out of the zone [including in the dirt] while chasing strikeouts.

He is currently focusing on developing his changeup to give him a better chance against right-handed hitters. Righties batted .296 against Snyder in Double-A last season, and he had just one more strikeout than walk against them. If his changeup improves, he will increase his chances of becoming a regular Major League reliever. He'll also mix in the occasional curveball, but his arsenal definitely begins and ends with the fastball-slider mix.

Projection: Snyder is purely a situational lefty down the line, but his deadly fastball-slider combination from his arm angle could make him a very good situational lefty for a long time. Before Snyder can carve out a consistent big league career, he'll likely have to improve his fastball command and changeup to right-handed hitters, as they still hit him relatively hard. Although Snyder profiles as a situational lefty, he [like every left-handed reliever] would still have to face the occasional right-handed hitter, and he needs to improve against them.

2010 Outlook: Depending on his Spring Training performance [as well as the performance of others], Snyder has an opportunity to crack the Rangers' big league bullpen out of Spring Training. As a Rule 5 selection, he has to spend the entire season on the 25-man roster, otherwise he will be sent back to the Giants. If the Rangers feel Snyder isn't quite big league-ready, they could set up a trade with the Giants to acquire him permanently, which would allow Snyder to begin the season in Triple-A.

If Snyder makes the club, he would almost surely be working exclusively to left-handed hitters. However, assuming C.J. Wilson ends up back in the bullpen, they'd have to be willing to carry three lefties in the ‘pen for Snyder to have a chance, between Wilson, Oliver and Snyder.

ETA: 2010.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 Salem-Keizer (SSA) 4-1 66.0 60 17 58 3.68
2007 Augusta (A) 16-5 151.0 128 32 145 2.09
2008 San Jose (A+) 8-3 85.2 79 18 73 2.00
Connecticut (AA) 1-6 61.2 77 23 44 5.98
2009 Connecticut (AA) 4-4 97.0 82 38 86 2.88

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