One of the prospect storylines of interest this year is the transition of 2010 draft pick Forrest Snow from the bullpen in to the rotation. Snow had a wonderfully successful debut in Everett in Clinton last year in a relief role, giving up just three runs in 45 1/3 innings over 25 appearances, including nine saves.
Then, during the offseason, the Mariners decided to move him to the rotation. Mostly a starter at the University of Washington (Snow is a local boy, having been born in Seattle), Snow is no stranger to the role, and supposedly welcomed the change with open arms. He could have been fast-tracked as a reliever, but given his arsenal, he has intriguing potential as a starter.
Snow offers four pitches to batters. The first is a fastball that, while flying true, is well-located and he can move it all around the strike zone as needed. His first start, coming with the Clinton LumberKings, saw his fastball coming in around 89-90, but his arm has better velocity than that. Last year saw him sitting 91-93, touching 95 on occasion, and his second start saw him in a range closer to that.
His secondary offerings are a standard mix of a curveball, slider, and changeup. The curve and slider are both average pitches all in all, and Snow frequently will have one be more effective than the other during the course of a game. Fortunately, he seems to get a feel for which one is working better quickly, and leans on that one more.
The changeup flashes as Snow’s best secondary pitch, and is well-commanded, coming with very good armspeed that disguises it well out of his hand. The success of that pitch will be the main factor in whether or not he can stick as a starter, as it’s his best weapon against left-handed hitters, especially on nights when his curveball is behind his slider.
Snow’s first professional exposure to the starting rotation has shown promise so far. He’s not going to be an ace by any means; if the cards fall right for Forrest, he has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter. The more likely scenario sees him being in the back end of the rotation, but that’s still a good guy to be able to develop.
Snow’s development is definitely something to keep an eye on over the coming months, and we’ll be checking in on it from time to time.