Baseball America announced its 2015 Minor League Player of the Year on Wednesday. The honors went to one of the top prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Blake Snell, 22, became the fourth player in Rays' franchise history to take home Baseball America's award. The left-hander finished 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 25 games (23 starts), totaling 134 innings, between High Class-A Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.
"Few pitchers have approached Snell's success over the past decade," John Manuel of Baseball America wrote. "His 1.41 ERA, which led all minor league qualifiers, is the lowest for a full-season pitcher since Justin Verlander's 1.29 in 2005, and he ranked among the leaders in wins (tied for fourth), strikeouts (also tied for fourth), WHIP (ninth, 1.02) and opponent average (first, .182)."
2015 Minor League Player Of The Year: Blake Snell http://t.co/kXT5NNTYHx— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) September 16, 2015
Baseball America ranked Snell the No. 2 overall prospect in the Rays' organization in their Midseason Update and ESPN Insider Keith Law had him on his list of contenders to win the award. Law ultimately chose Houston Astros' prospect A.J. Reed as his Minor League Player of the Year, but he had good things to say about Snell:
"Snell's career has been a study in patience, as he was drafted in 2011 and as recently as 2013 was walking one of every six batters he faced. His control has improved along with his stuff since then, and this year he reached Triple-A and merited a major league call-up that never came ...
"He was particularly deadly against left-handed batters, and I could see an argument that calling him up to the majors now while he has some concerns against right-handed hitters would be premature. (I wouldn't let him face the Padres, for example.) I'd still expect to see him in the majors for a good chunk of 2016 given the team's lack of starting pitching depth and injury concerns for several guys currently in the rotation."
Snell is a former supplemental first-round pick of the Rays back in 2011. Due to his unprecedented rise throughout the minors this season, he'll likely be competing for a spot on the Rays' 2016 Opening Day roster. However, the left-hander will face competition, as the Rays' rotation consists of Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Moore.
Tampa Bay also expects Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) to return in mid-2016.
Despite his exceptional season, Snell will not be participating in this year's Arizona Fall League.