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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: BLAKE SNELL

When it comes to developing young starting pitchers, look no further then the Tampa Rays Rays in terms of having a high success rate of churning out accomplished hard-throwing arms.  Whether it was David Price, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Matt Moore, the Rays have been very deserving of the praise they have received for developing these youthful arms into big-time strikeouts artists.  This impressive conveyor belt looks to be unending as they latest to fire off the end of the machine could well be 24-year-old lefty Blake Snell.  As 2017 fantasy baseball draws near, Snell is line to be a firm member of the Rays rotation where his high-strikeout arm could make him a very interesting sleeper candidate.

As far as Snell's history is concerned, he was the team's first round pick (19th overall) in 2011 and he more than made a name for himself in the team's system as he won Baseball America's 2015 Minor League Player of the Year in 2015.  It was during that dominant season where Snell's stock soared around the game as he pitched to a 1.57 ERA at Double-A and then a 1.83 mark at Triple-A and put up K/9 rates of 11.57 and 10.38 respectively.  Those are insane numbers and speaks to how tough it is to simply get a hit off of Snell.  Throw in the very high strikeout totals and Snell looks primed to be the next big power pitcher in fantasy baseball.  Of course, Snell's 89-inning debut with the Rays last season was a bit rocky as his solid 3.54 ERA went with a nasty 1.62 WHIP.  Those two ratios don't jive of course and Snell's very lucky .356 BABIP saved him from more ERA damage.  The big issue there was the fact Snell had zero control as his 5.16 BB/9 was simply brutal and that has been the one big negative going back to when the kid was first drafted.  While the walks were poor, Snell did strike out major league hitters at a very good 9.91 K/9 rate and also kept the ball in the park as evidenced by his low 0.51 HR.9.  Thus if Snell can simply curb the walks even a little, his stock will shoot way up and fast.  This is a special arm who seems very poised to become the next ace-type starter to come out of the Rays organization this season.

2017 PROJECTION:  11-6 3.48 ERA 1.27 WHIP 175 K  

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