Before 2009: Snyder was drafted — with much fanfare, I may add — out of the University of San Diego in the 21st round by the Yankees in 2007. He quickly signed and was just as quickly shipped off to Short Season-A Staten Island, where he tore up NYPL pitchers to the tune of a .335 batting average in 73 games, adding five home runs, 40 RBI and ten steals along the way. Always known for his versatility, Snyder played 13 games at second base, 23 at third base, 32 at shortstop and 11 in the outfield that year.
The undersized spark plug advanced to Low-A Charleston in 2008, and performed as well as their everyday second baseman, hitting .288 in a whopping 504 at-bats. Although he hit seven home runs and 59 RBI, he had three less steals than the previous year despite nearly double the plate appearances and understandably couldn’t come near matching his impressive 58/50 K:BB ratio from the year before as well.
2009: Having just turned 23 years old, Snyder was somewhat surprisingly assigned to start the season in Double-A Trenton, skipping High-A Tampa entirely. It was an experiment that did not go well…in my opinion, that’s for several reasons.
Snyder struggled all season long, hitting just .195 with three home runs, 29 RBI and one stolen base in 94 games. Thing is, there was no reason to keep Snyder there all season. He was just 23 years old, as I said, and sending him back down to Tampa hardly would have retarded his progress…if anything, it may have hastened it. But while the organization was quick to send down those who were underperforming (Smith, Fortenberry) and keep them there, they seemed unwilling to admit a mistake in skipping Snyder a level, although…admittedly, they had no reason to initially think he couldn’t have handled it based on his performance in 2007 and 2008.
Furthermore, the organization seemed to get away from their plan of having Snyder master one position, as he did in 2008. Oddly, they felt it was more beneficial for him to serve as a super utility guy — playing all over the place for the Thunder — but getting less playing time and less experience in any one spot in Double-A than having him refine his game in High-A. Didn’t understand that the whole season last year, and I still don’t.
After 2009: Snyder will undoubtedly return to Double-A Trenton in 2010, most likely as a middle infielder…but really, who knows after last season. Last year was a huge and significant bump in the road for a player the Yankees liked very much when they drafted him. Although he’s 24 years old, it’s hard to envision a promotion to Scranton for Snyder unless he shows significant improvement from his 2009 season.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com