The next few minor league free agents we will take a look at here all have non roster invitations to Spring Training, so other places like Viva El Birdos have picked up the coverage of these players. But, hey, they are minor league free agents, so they might be ours for part of the year at least. Let’s look at Ian Snell, the most promising “name” player picked up this month.
Snell is probably best remembered for his good early years with Pittsburgh in 2006 and 2007 when he pitched 180+ and 200+ innings respectively. In 2008, he had slightly less control and slightly worse luck with a .350 BABIP. Gotta love that Pittsburgh defense. But, he allowed more line drives, which the defense had little chance of stopping. That is where Snell’s decent begins. He was traded in 2009 to Seattle with Jack Wilson and did not have quite a good conversion to the American League. His strikeouts and walks were almost equal at around 5/9 innings.
By the time he made his 2010 debut with the Mariners, his decent was already in full swing even though he still had the ability to induce an above average amount of swinging strikes. Tom at Viva El Birdos points out Snell’s velocity graph at Fangraphs, which has his average fastball velocity dropped a whole MPH between 2007 and 2010. Another bad set of numbers is that his slider and curve ball velocities have not declined either. With the fastball and offspeed pitches at closer velocities, it is understandable how Snell has become more hittable.
However, one positive for Snell is that Bill James’s 2011 projection thinks well of Snell. (I totally didn’t mean to rhyme that, I swear.) James thinks his K/9 will pop back up to over 7 per 9 innings, where it has not been since 2007.
Snell has never been much of a ground ball pitcher, but who knows what a little bit of Dave Duncan Spring Training pixie dust will do for him. Duncan won’t mind the lower velocity or the low strikeout totals, but the low ground ball percentage will not do.
With the Cardinals having a full stable of starting pitchers, Snell will hang with us in the DFRs in Memphis until an injury or bullpen call up. He has put up good numbers in the minor when he was returned there, so do not read much into any great numbers from Memphis. Snell may be lining up to be this year’s Ruben Gotay.