Scouting Yankees Prospect #48: Justin Snyder

Scouting Yankees Prospect #48: Justin Snyder

The New York Yankees selected Justin Snyder in the 21st round of the 2007 MLB Draft out the University of San Diego. A super-utility player for Staten Island a year ago who had a superb debut season, he shifted over to second base in Charleston this year. The numbers weren't nearly as great in 2008, but he had a solid overall first full season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Justin Snyder
Position: Second Base
DOB: November 6, 1985
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

"I thought I did okay, not up to what I think I should have done," Snyder admitted. "I feel like I could have done better but it was my first full year so the fatigue part set in a little bit. I didn't really know how to handle that, working out and the conditioning stuff."

A .306 hitter in the first half of the season, despite drawing more walks after the All Star break, the left-handed batter hit forty points lower in the second half.

Such a disparity in numbers isn't uncommon for players enduring their first full season of professional baseball as most have to learn how to balance lifting weights, doing their cardiovascular programs, and pre-game batting practice, all while pacing themselves for a 142-game season.

"I think the physical part came before the mental part," he said. "The mental part stemmed from being physically tired. Sometimes failing when you know you shouldn't, will mess your brain up. I'm sure that attributed to some of my slumping in the second half."

Snyder, who can be one of his own worst critics at times, did open some eyes in the organization for his overall consistent play and rather polished game, however, so much so that some believe his game isn't that far off from being able to compete in the higher minor league levels already.

"I think he is what he is," said Charleston manager Torre Tyson. "What I mean by that is, if you threw him up in Double-A right now he'd be doing the exact same thing up there that he's doing down here.

"I don't see him as the type of guy that if you threw him Triple-A for three weeks that he would be completely overmatched. I think he's just a consistent .280 hitter, that's what he is."

A versatile role player in 2007, one who had played four different positions with Staten Island, he was shifted over to second base full-time in Charleston this year.

The problem with that, however, is the Yankees already had some high-ceiling second baseman in place prior to his full-time position switch in 2008 and then they drafted a couple of more second baseman back in June.

Trying to distinguish himself in what has rapidly become a rather deep position in the organization, Snyder, whose greatest potential value is still as an eventual big league utility player, would welcome a return to his more versatile days if the Yankees decided to go that route.

"It really doesn't matter to me," said Snyder. "I definitely would welcome playing every position, whatever gets me in the lineup. I'm not really picky. You've still got to hit too, to stay in that lineup. So no matter where I play I've still got to swing the bat."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2008 Charleston .288 504 33 7 59 77 7 68 95 .371 .407
2007 Staten Island .335 260 20 5 40 68 10 58 50 .459 .477


Batting and Power. Snyder has a much better idea of the strike zone than his 2008 ratios would suggest. He walked more times than he struck out in college and did it once again in Staten Island a year ago. His patience, which is way above average, does tend to make him a little less aggressive than he probably should be and that was a major contributing factor for his rather high strikeout totals this past season. His combination of plate discipline and patience are great tools in becoming a .300 hitter, and he has proven he can be exactly that at times. He also has solid power for both a middle infielder and a utility player, and he improved his bunting game this past season, making him quite versatile in the batter's box.

Base Running and Speed. Nowhere is Snyder's less than aggressive approach more evident than on the base paths. He has more natural speed than his 17 career stolen bases would indicate and a guy with his ability to get on base as frequently as he does should be attempting more steals. Seemingly a bit gun-shy, he is a better runner once he is in motion and he could approach the 20-stolen base plateau down the road once he learns how to read pitchers' moves better and have more confidence in his running abilities.

Defense. He committed 27 errors at second base this year, although eleven of them came in the first 22 games after being transitioned there full-time. He is a much better defensive player than his numbers have shown. He had problems consistently working the pivot on double-plays but he got better as the year wore on, and he rushed a bit too much to make plays rather than slow the game down and allow the game to come to him. He has a very strong arm for a second baseman and that, along with his solid speed, allows him to play an array of positions in the field.

Projection. Snyder's smaller stature prevents him from being one of the more projectable position players in the organization. His best full-time position is at second base given his plate discipline, moderate power, and ability to hit for average. It also remains his best defensive position. However, with second base seemingly becoming a position of strength inside the Yankees organization and given his offensive and defensive versatility, he projects best as a future utility player in Pinstripes. He has the chance to develop into a left-handed hitting version of Marcus Giles [also a later-round draft pick] someday, but his opportunities and chances of developing as a Marlon Anderson type of role player are greater.

ETA. 2011. A year ago we predicted Snyder would move to second base and begin his first full season in Charleston, which would make his potential big league ascension a bit slower. Now that the Yankees have added even more second baseman, however, it seems more than likely that Snyder will be shifted back to the utility role and that could get him to the big leagues a bit sooner. He should open up with the Tampa Yankees in 2009 as the team's utility player.

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