Snell is a semi-power starter who began the year in Tampa Bay, but was optioned to Durham after struggling with his control (5.4 BB/9) and working with plenty of traffic on the bases (1.62 WHIP) in the big leagues in his 42 innings of big league work. I viewed his first start against the PawSox on May 26.
Snell has a well-proportioned, athletic frame and an overall plus athlete. He has the ability and talent to be a Role 70 number two starter with all four of his pitches projecting as plus offerings, but his command and control are his biggest drawback at present. He needs to learn to economize his pitches and since arriving at Triple-A he’s still struggling, walking eight in 18 1/3 innings of work, though those struggles are being offset by the raw stuff, as he’s struck out 29 batters over that time.
Snell pitches out of a no windup, abbreviated delivery and landing on a stiff front side, which causes most of his command and control issues. He needs to soften his front side and repeat his delivery better because at times he’ll overthrow and spin off to the first-base side. Keeping his delivery together longer and staying over the rubber is key to his consistency.
Snell sports a double-plus fastball ranging from 93-to-97 mph, but he sits mostly at 94 mph with run bore and tail to both sides of the plate, and he can also get late sinking action which, when he’s on and locating down in the strike zone, gets you a pitch with double-plus movement and a true swing-and-miss offering. While the command is presently below average – even erratic – at present, there is some room for it to develop into fringe-average.
His curveball is plus with varied shapes and actions, from a 12-to-6 downer, to one with 11-to-5 break with good two-plane depth. His slider is also plus, with short, quick cutting action that backs up to righties. He can also miss bats with his plus changeup, which shows late fading action particularly versus right-handers but he’ll also use it use versus left-handers on occasion.
Snell can be dominating if and when he puts the whole package together. His biggest drawback at this point is that he needs to harness his command and control, but with some adjustments the delivery is fixable. And remember, he’s still only 24 years old. He has a ceiling of Role 70 number two, with a floor of a Role 60 number three if the command and control doesn’t come around. The arsenal is too good to run away from, but he’ll probably top out at fringe-average control, but his strikeout rates should be high enough to offset that concern.