Snyder Finding His Stride

TAMPA, FL - First baseman Matt Snyder missed most of last season with a broken right forearm after being hit by a fastball in a game, limiting him to only 47 games. Despite this he’s come back this year in a big way by leading the team with 20 RBIs in 24 games and he's looking to put his injury history behind him.

Drafted in the 10th round in 2012 out of Ole Miss, Snyder comes from a talented baseball family where his father, Brian, pitched for the Mariners and Athletics over four years in the late 80’s and with his brother, Brandon, recently playing a few seasons for the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. He certainly has the pedigree to climb through the minors quickly and he is starting to prove the hype that has surrounded him since being drafted.

Long lauded for his offensive potential and drawing rave reviews for his offensive approach, Snyder has been able to finally prove it to those not in the know with his play so far this season. Finally healthy, he's hitting a robust .371 with three home runs for the Tampa Yankees. Where he’s really succeeding though is with his plate discipline, drawing 15 walks to only 17 strikeouts. According to hitting coach Tommy Slater, it was all about him being able to stay healthy.

“Matt has always hit," Slater said. "He has a great eye at the plate, sees the ball well, is taking his walks, and hits the ball hard which is a great combination to have.

"He’s had a track record of good hitting when he’s been healthy and the biggest thing with him is just keeping him on the field and so far that’s been going very well."

At 6-foot-5 and weighing in around 225 pounds, he has the build to do some real damage with the bat. Offensively there aren't many challenges but if it’s anything that he’d really like to improve on it’s his defense at first base. That’s been tough though as Mike Ford has been getting most of the starts at first which forces Snyder to DH most nights. But if you think it’s affecting his confidence then you would be wrong.

“It’s been tough right now, I’ve been playing a lot of DH and I’m not trying to make any excuses but playing first base isn’t like riding a bike," Snyder said. "But I’ve never lost confidence and I have a lot of confidence in what I can do.”

Going into this offseason Snyder worked hard on leg training to try to get his thighs back underneath him and really work out his right forearm, the one he broke last year, to get that arm fully recovered. Couple this with him working hard with hitting coach Tommy Slater and he thinks he has the recipe to continue to succeed.

“I’m having a great time working with our hitting coach, Tommy Slater," Snyder said. "He introduced a leg kick to me that has really helped me out and I’ve felt great with it. It’s something that I can really say has definitely helped me out and I can’t express how much I appreciate him helping me out.

“I worked hard in the offseason on making sure my legs got stronger. We really worked hard in Spring Training on the base running which made me lose like 20 pounds that I've been trying to put back on and i think with that there’s even more power potential in my swing."

At the age of 24, some critics may think he’s a little too old for the Florida State League which gives him a developmental edge over the younger guys in the rest of the Florida State League but those concerns aren’t shared by his manager Dave Bialas, who has nothing but high praise for Snyder and who thinks he has what it takes to get to the next level.

“With as much as he’s been able to play [in recent seasons], I don’t think he’s too old at all," Bialas said.. "You look at the Major League level, they don’t check ID’s in the big leagues.

“With the way he swings the bat and the kind of power he has, I think he can move up quickly through the system. I think he can get there right now, there’s not much left for him to prove. Matt just needs to keep doing what he’s doing."

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