O’s first base prospect Brandon Snyder is smart enough to know that he is likely to begin the 2010 season in the Norfolk Tides’ lineup.
He’ll head to spring training with the Orioles in a few weeks “out to win a job” at the Major League level, but he surely realizes that while his time may come this year, it probably will not be on opening day.
One of the mysteries of the 2009 O’s minor league season was Snyder’s struggles at Triple-A.
The O’s first-round pick from 2005 hit .343-10-45 in 58 games with Bowie; but with the Tides in 73 games, he batted just .248-2-43 and fanned 64 times in 262 at bats.
In an October interview, Snyder told me he got a little psyched out by Norfolk’s big, pitcher-friendly home park. Then he said:
“Hitting to center and right center is my gap power and Norfolk’s park killed me. I won’t say I didn’t struggle here and there but I went from Bowie to Norfolk and kept hitting line drives, kept hitting balls well that I thought would carry for at least doubles. Once the hits stopped, I tried to change.
“That was something I shouldn’t have done. I should have kept the same approach, whether I hit a buck fifty or .250 or .300. I should not have changed what I was doing. It took me a few weeks before I came here to get that back. I was completely screwed up, thinking ‘I need to slap the ball around the field’ since I couldn’t hit it out of there (Norfolk).
“It was a big learning lesson. I needed to stay with my game plan and hopefully it leads me to Baltimore someday.”
Now the 23-year-old Snyder, ranked as the O’s 6th best prospect by both Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law, is ready to battle opposing pitchers and Norfolk’s Harbor Park, again.
“If I go back to Norfolk, I’m interested to challenge myself there. That’s why I put on some more weight so I had something behind the baseball. I can’t let it bother me.
“That’s what I learned last year. In the fall league, I kind of worked as much mentally as I did physically.
“You can’t let things you can’t control, like the size of the field, impact you. My dad told me I lined out 27 percent of the time last year, I think that’s pretty good. But I was looking at it as I didn’t hit grass (and get hits). He said get over the stats and just go out and play.”
Snyder has heard the talk that he and Josh Bell will be the future corner infielders in Baltimore. He knows that is not guaranteed, but it’s still flattering.
“Very rare in this business do they give you much credit. To hear that is awesome, but with that comes a lot of pressure. This is a big organization with a lot of people that want to win.
“Maybe in some past years, the Orioles didn’t reach their potential, but times are changing. If you’re not ready to move with the organization, you could be left behind. I’ve talked to Josh, we’re very, very excited.”