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Originally published Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 8:00 PM

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Shorewood left-hander Blake Snell has high hopes for MLB draft

Blake Snell likes to strike people out. Wearing a flat-brimmed San Francisco Giants hat and a Seattle Select hooded sweatshirt, the Shorewood senior explained his penchant for punchouts.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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SHORELINE — Blake Snell likes to strike people out.

Wearing a flat-brimmed San Francisco Giants hat and a Seattle Select hooded sweatshirt, the Shorewood senior explained his penchant for punchouts.

"I like it when people get a little bit of arrogance to them at the plate," said Snell, while sitting on a dugout bench at Showcase Sports, a baseball training facility owned by his father, Dave. "It's fun. It's better to throw against them, too, because it's more like you versus the whole team."

When it comes to striking people out, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound lefty was as good as anyone in 2011. He fanned 128 batters in 63 innings, compiling a 9-0 record and a 1.00 earned-run average for the Thunderbirds, who finished second in Class 3A.

After being asked about his impressive strikeout numbers — two per inning — he ducked his head, eyes hidden by the bill of his cap, and laughed, "I did pretty good this year."

Since growing about 7 inches over about five months after his freshman year, the soft-spoken, but confident pitcher has developed into one of the state's top prospects, a talent some believe could be taken on the first day of the 2011 MLB first-year player draft, which starts at 4 p.m. Monday.

"The arm," one professional scout said, when asked what talent evaluators see in Snell. "He's got good secondary stuff. He throws strikes. He's competitive, and you know what? The one thing about this kid is he's a projectable player. He's really young looking and you're hoping that he's going to get bigger and stronger."

Snell, who has signed with the University of Washington, features a fastball clocked between 91 and 93 miles per hour. He has a good curve and is working on his changeup. His goal is to be taken on the first day of the draft, which includes the first round and the supplemental round between the first and second. But he's trying not to look too far ahead.

"I hear so much, and a lot of people come up and tell me where they've seen on the Internet where I'm going," Snell said. "I really just keep playing baseball, not really thinking about it until the day comes."

Since the end of the high-school season, Snell has flown to Arizona for a workout, filled out paperwork and taken tests for teams. He has had plenty to keep him busy, and if he needs any advice, he can turn to his father, who was a high-school standout at Ingraham before being drafted by the Giants in 1982. He signed with Kansas City in 1983, spent some time in Seattle's system and pitched as high as Class AA.

"It's just been fun sitting back, watching him do what he's worked so hard to get to," said Dave Snell, who is also the director of baseball for the Seattle Select program. "It's always been one of his goals and dreams to get there. I always tell him, dream big. You can dream big all you want, that way you've got a higher goal to set for yourself."

The Giants hat Snell wore during the interview is one of about 25 he owns. Who knows — come Monday he might be able to say he already owns the hat of the team that drafts him.

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com

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