Lefthander Becomes Fifth Durham Bull to Capture Prestigious Award
Durham Bulls LHP Blake Snell has been named Baseball America’s 2015 Minor League Player of the Year. He becomes just the ninth pitcher in 35 years to claim the honor. Past winners include Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and former World Series MVP Josh Beckett. The Baseball America award joins several other accolades bestowed on the minor league ERA leader, as Snell also claimed the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year nod and was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season by the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
A supplemental first-round pick in 2011 out of Shoreline, Wash., Snell vaulted from Class A Advanced Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery and then to Triple-A Durham, where he finished the season. He is the fifth Durham Bull to win the award, joining outfielders Andruw Jones (1996), Rocco Baldelli (2002) and Delmon Young (2005) and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (2010), who was the last pitcher to win the award. Snell is the first left-handed pitcher to win the award since the Rockies’ Jeff Francis in 2004.
“Last year, Blake was just another pitching prospect, but he combined development strides with performance like no one else in the minors in 2015,” said John Manuel, editor in chief of Baseball America. “His season ranks with the best performances by a pitcher in the last decade, as he was stingy with runs and profligate with strikeouts.”
Snell, 22, opened the season with a 46-inning scoreless streak and went on to lead the minor leagues in ERA at 1.41, the lowest mark since Justin Verlander’s 1.29 ERA in 2005. Overall, Snell went 15-4, 1.41, striking out 163 in 134 innings. He allowed just 84 hits, limiting opponents to a .182 average (best in the minors among starters), and walked 53 while posting a 1.02 WHIP. He tied for fourth in the minors in wins and strikeouts and ranked ninth in WHIP.
After joining the Bulls on July 24, the southpaw proceeded to go 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA in nine starts. From his Triple-A debut through the end of the season, Snell led the International League with a .187 opponent’s average, and ranked second on the circuit in wins (6), ERA (1.83) and strikeouts (57). Over his nine starts with Durham he allowed one earned run or fewer eight times, while finishing the season by going unbeaten over his final six starts.
The Durham Bulls recently concluded their 2015 campaign with another record-setting paid attendance total, celebrating Durham Bulls Athletic Park’s 20th Anniversary with a single-season cumulative mark of 554,788. Season tickets and Mini Plan packages for the 2016 season, which begins on Thursday, April 7, are on sale now at the DBAP box office, by calling 919.956.BULL or visiting durhambulls.com.
About Baseball America
Baseball America, part of The Enthusiast Network, is a full-service media company with in-depth coverage of every level of baseball, from high school and college to the minors all the way to the major leagues. Baseball America magazine is published 24 times a year, and BaseballAmerica.com features BA’s signature content updated daily. Baseball America also publishes several annual reference books including the Prospect Handbook, the definitive resource on up and coming professional talent. BA will present Snell’s award during its awards gala Dec. 8 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
BASEBALL AMERICA MINOR LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS
- 1981 • Mike Marshall, 1b, Dodgers
- 1982 • Ron Kittle, of, White Sox
- 1983 • Dwight Gooden, rhp, Mets
- 1984 • Mike Bielecki, rhp, Pirates
- 1985 • Jose Canseco, of, Athletics
- 1986 • Gregg Jefferies, ss, Mets
- 1987 • Gregg Jefferies, ss, Mets
- 1988 • Tom Gordon, rhp, Royals
- 1989 • Sandy Alomar, c, Padres
- 1990 • Frank Thomas, 1b, White Sox
- 1991 • Derek Bell, of, Blue Jays
- 1992 • Tim Salmon, of, Angels
- 1993 • Manny Ramirez, of, Indians
- 1994 • Derek Jeter, ss, Yankees
- 1995 • Andruw Jones, of, Braves
- 1996 • Andruw Jones, of, Braves
- 1997 • Paul Konerko, 1b, Dodgers
- 1998 • Eric Chavez, 3b, Athletics
- 1999 • Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals
- 2000 • Jon Rauch, rhp, White Sox
- 2001 • Josh Beckett, rhp, Marlins
- 2002 • Rocco Baldelli, of, Devil Rays
- 2003 • Joe Mauer, c, Twins
- 2004 • Jeff Francis, lhp, Rockies
- 2005 • Delmon Young, of, Devil Rays
- 2006 • Alex Gordon, 3b, Royals
- 2007 • Jay Bruce, of, Reds
- 2008 • Matt Wieters, c, Orioles
- 2009 • Jason Heyward, of, Braves
- 2010 • Jeremy Hellickson, rhp, Rays
- 2011 • Mike Trout, of, Angels
- 2012 • Wil Myers, of, Royals
- 2013 • Byron Buxton, of, Twins
- 2014 • Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs
- 2015 • Blake Snell, lhp, Rays
Thanks to DBBC’s Scott Carter for this capcom story & photo.