Prospect Profile: Justin Snyder

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Justin Snyder | UTIL

Background
Snyder was born and raised in Lakeside, CA, a relatively small suburb north of San Diego. He attended El Capitan High School, where he starred as a three sport athlete. He lettered in baseball, football and soccer, and helped turn a mediocre baseball program into a Southern California powerhouse alongside future college teammates Jordan Abruzzo and Dustin Church. Snyder batted .407, was named First Team All-State, and helped the Vaqueros win their first California Interscholastic Federation Championship his junior season. He followed that up by hitting .470 as a senior, bringing El Capitan it’s second consecutive CIF Championship title. He again received All-State honors, but added All-American honors as well. Snyder went undrafted in 2004, and chose to attend The University of San Diego over San Diego State because of academics, even though Tony Gwynn’s alma mater recruited him more heavily.

Snyder started 48 of the Toreros 57 games as a freshman, playing all over the infield and some outfield as well. He finished the year with a .318-.430-.447 line, with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers, 31 RBI and a 16-36 K/BB ratio. He finished second on the team in OPS and OBP, third in homers and tied for the team lead in walks. USD did not make the postseason, although Snyder did receive an All-Conference honorable mention.

Snyder started all 58 of the team’s games as a sophomore, and hit .301-.418-.416 with 14 doubles, 1 triple and 3 homers. He again walked more than he struck out (36-39 K/BB ratio), and again played all over the field. He received another All-Conference honorable mention, and helped the Toreros to their first NCAA Regionals appearance in three years (USD went 0-2 in the double elimination tourney, losing both times to Matt Garza and Fresno State).

Snyder became the catalyst of USD’s offense as a junior, hitting .352-.433-.482 with a team leading 85 hits and 21 doubles out of the leadoff spot. Unlike the previous two seasons, Snyder played primarily second base as junior, although he did walk more times than he struck out again (35-37 K/BB). Snyder finally broke through and won a spot on the All-Conference Team, while USD took home the conference title and earned a Top 8 National Seed for the NCAA Postseason (USD again went 0-2 in the Regional tourney).

Snyder was projected to be a top 6 rounds pick heading into the 2007 draft, but his stock fell considerably because of a host of reasons (size, signability, etc). The Yanks selected Snyder in the 21st round (#664 overall), and he became the Yanks’ first 2007 draftee to officially sign, agreeing to a far-above slot bonus approaching $100,000 the day after the draft. You can tell the Yanks like him, because they still paid him like a 6th rounder.

Pro Debut
Snyder joined Short Season Staten Island after signing, and performed basically just like he had during his college career. He hit .335-.459-.477 with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homers, 40 RBI and a 50-58 K/BB ratio while seeing the majority of his action at shortstop. He tied for fourth in the NY-Penn League in BA, first in OBP, third in OPS, first in hits, first in runs scored, and second in walks. The Yanks held Snyder out of Instructional League fearing he was fatigued after playing the longest season of his career.

Strengths
Snyder’s best asset is his versatility. He played all over the field while with USD, and spent significant time at short, second, third and centerfield while with Staten Island. None of Snyder’s tools are above average, but he runs well and has surprising pop for a guy his size (5’9″, 190 lbs). He’s one of the unique players who bats lefty but throws righty, which makes more useful that a prototypical R-R infielder. His plate discipline is outstanding (hence the astronomical OBPs), and he makes enough contact to avoid big strikeout totals despite working deep counts. He’s a grinder and a pest, and he’s played above his tools since high school.

Weaknesses
Snyder doesn’t play the little man’s game well despite his stature. His bunting is passable but not what you’d expect from a pesky type player, and his baserunning is just adequate. Although he makes good contact, it’s often weak and good fastballs will give him trouble. On the infield he needs to slow the game down, because he tends to rush his throws, fumble his transfers and have awkward footwork. He’s suited for second base and ideally would play center, but the Yanks won’t move him off short until he proves he can’t handle it.

2008 Outlook
Snyder should start the season at High-A Tampa. Bradley Suttle has already managed to show that he isn’t ready for High-A, which means Mitch Hilligoss can remain at third instead of moving over to short as planned. Snyder figures to play mostly shortstop for Tampa, unless the Yanks stick him in CF and give Eduardo Nunez another shot at Tampa’s shortstop gig.

My Take
Snyder’s a stat-head kind of guy. Sabermetrically inclined fans love the gaudy OBP and low strikeout totals, but I’m not completely enamored by the guy. There’s just not enough there for him to cover up his weaknesses, and he hasn’t fully learned to let the game come to him yet, which is what a small guy needs to do. If it all goes right for him he’ll be one hell of a utility player, but he’s going to have to scrap and grind and gritify his way up the ladder. The Yanks have better options, but you’d take a Justin Snyder in the 21st round year after year if you had the choice.

 

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Let's Go Gi-ants!!!
If you're going to Yankee hate, at least be accurate
  • Bob Michaels

    In three yrs he will be in the Bigs.

  • dan

    You either wrote the K/BB ratios backwards or wrote the sentences backwards.

    And I’m not sure this is true, “He’s one of the rare players who bats lefty but throws righty” On the Yankees alone there is Cano, Matsui, Giambi, and Abreu. The rare combo is the bat righty/throw lefty player such as Rickey Henderson.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Ah dammit, the K/BB ratios are backwards. He walked more than struck out, my bad. It’s fixed now. You’re right about the bat left/throw right thing too, I probably confused that too.

      Not my best effort, obviously.

    • alex

      don’t forget mussina. he bats left, throws right.

      • dan

        Ah yes, how could I ever forget that Mussina bats lefty. That comment wasn’t my best effort, obviously.

        Also, I think Randy Johnson bats righty.

  • Nefarious Jackson

    You get on my ass with your anti-melky fervor but Mike A, typoz aside, you write some of, if not the best, prospect profiles around, level headed and on the money-
    much appreciated

    • dan

      Yea they really are better than anything I’ve read on individual players anywhere else. I mentioned typos and whatnot, but failed to mention the overall goodness (if that’s a word?) of this post, and the previous profiles.

  • RollingWave

    How does his college # stack up against Dustin Pedroia? cause that’s what he looks most like it seems.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Pedroia’s numbers smoke ‘em. Check it out. Those K/BB ratios are unsane.

  • jeff

    “There’s just not enough there for him to cover up his weaknesses, and he hasn’t fully learned to let the game come to him yet, which is what a small guy needs to do.”

    I hate this kind of cliched writing. WTF does “he hasn’t fully learned to let the game come to him yet” even mean, and why do small guys have to do it, while big guys apparently don’t?

    Writing stuff like that makes it sound like you don’t know much about the guy and you’re just trying to fill space. If that’s not true, you really do yourself a disservice by using meaningless cliches.

    BTW, if not bunting well is really Snyder’s biggest weakness, the guy is going to be a friggin’ super star.

    Rereading what I just wrote, it probably comes off a lot more harsh than I intended. I really respect and appreciate the effort you guys put into these profiles in general.

    • http://riveraveblue.com Mike A.

      No sweat, the criticsm is appreciated.

      By letting the game come to him, he needs to stop forcing it and let his natural ability and instincts take over. Everyone needs to do it, not just the little guys. A-Rod was tryig to do to much intead of just letting his ability take over before 2007.

      He needs to focus on bunting and stealing and stuff like that, he’s never going to hit 20 homers or drive in 100 runs. He has to stay within himself and not try to be something he’s not.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    USD runs a better program then SDSU…I have many sources on the West Coast that say that Gwynn knows the game but can’t communicate with his players.

  • Mike

    Mike A, appreciate the write-ups on the prospects, especially some of the later-round picks where information is harder to come by. (BTW Do you ever get to see the players, at least the ones who are local, meaning Staten Island? I’m guessing you’re some where in the NY tri-state area.)

    Regarding Snyder, looking at his numbers on paper, it does appear he’s doing the right things for a smaller player, although I’m not sure 190 lbs. on a 5’9″ frame makes him small, especially for a 21-year-old who is bound to get a bit bigger. He sounds like he may have a pretty compact, powerful build, and players like that can develop decent power. Miquel Tejada, who is also about 5’9″, comes to mind. Regardless, he seems to show good plate discipline and line-drive power, switch hits and plays multiple positions. That’s the type of versatility I’d look for in a non-big player.

    The real test for Snyder should come soon. His numbers last year were good, but since he was in low A ball coming out of college, anything less than those numbers would have been a bad sign. Same thing if he starts in High-A Tampa in ’08. He turns 22 in April, which means he won’t be one of the younger players in the league, so he should be expected to hit well and move up to AA by mid-season if he truly has promise. Time will tell!

    Keep up the great work.

  • Tammy

    You suck, you don’t even know the guy or his ablilites. What? Is it your job to slam people down, rather than lift them up? Why don’t you think about the things you write before you put them out there for everyone to read, especially if you are going to report it incorrectly?

  • jimbo

    THIS KID IS QUITELY TENACIOUS AND A HARD WORKER AND WANTS TO PROVE HE JUST AS GOOD AS ANYBODY,NO MATTER WHAT SIZE! HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY AND ALWAYS WILL, SEEN THIS KID AT EVERY LEVEL, . HOPE THE BEST FOR HIM

  • tom

    this kid has more potential than many in the past few years. you will see him displaying his so called “short-comings” on television in the near future. he has plenty of power for the kind of player that he his and his maturity level as a player and as a person are at the top. If he can clean up his defense a bit and improve his speed in the slightest, his ladder climb will be quick. do not underestimate this young man, he knows the game well, better than people on tv now, he displayed it in college and in staten and is off to a good start in charleston. i wish him much luck on his upward journey.