It has been an eventful offseason for Brandon Snyder. He bought a house, added a puppy to the family and got engaged. A fall wedding is planned.
Now he wants to have an eventful season and get back to spraying line drives like he did at Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie; he’s been unable to do that consistently yet at Triple-A Norfolk.
In the summer of 2009, Snyder’s star was on the rise.
The year before, he had hit .315 with 13 homers and 80 RBIs at Frederick and then he started that ‘09 season by tearing it up at Double-A. He was batting .343 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs with an OPS of 1.018 in 58 games at Bowie when he was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk in mid June.
That is when the base hits and line drives stopped coming as often. He hit just .248 in 73 games, and last season with the Tides, the 24-year-old Snyder hit .257 with nine homers and 43 RBIs over 98 games.
Now, Snyder may be losing his grip on the title of future Orioles first baseman. He has Joe Mahoney and Tyler Townsend in the farm system behind him and free agent Derrek Lee is set to patrol first in Baltimore ahead of him.
Snyder knew the O’s were in the market for a first baseman, and when Lee signed, that pretty much took him out of any chance to be the O’s first baseman in 2011.
“Originally, as any player probably would be, I was a little kind of distraught as I knew that’s kind of a big adversity to overcome if I ever want to be the starting first baseman in Baltimore,” Snyder said. “Actually, one of my buddies called and said, ‘I’m happy for you that we signed Lee.’ I asked him why and he said, ‘Think of it this way: If you could pick anyone to learn from, he’d be one of the best guys to learn from.’ I am excited to play next to him in spring training and pick his brain. He will be great for the Orioles. I’m not competing against him, I’m competing against myself.”
Snyder added that he didn’t expect to get a call from anyone in the O’s front office after Lee’s signing and he didn’t receive any calls.
“No one needed to call me. You need to learn how to deal with that; this game is full of little adversities, I guess you could call it. They do what is best for the organization. Whether I get to the big leagues depends on what I do,” he said.
Now, the first order of business for the O’s first-round pick in 2005 is to prove he can hit Triple-A pitching.
“It’s going to be tough.That park and that place is a tough place for my game. But, I’ve got to make changes and I have made a few changes. I’ve worked really hard to get my power up,” Snyder said. “I’ve tried to overanalyze it in the past and now I have to just go out and play.”
Snyder’s dad, Brian, pitched in the majors and, over this winter, father and son spent time sizing up Brandon’s swing.
“I did a bunch of swing critiques and sat down with my dad, who runs a (baseball) academy. We broke down some things in my swing that I felt was holding me back on some things with pulling the ball and really having a strong core when I am hitting to have more power,” Snyder said at FanFest on Saturday. “It’s just about being comfortable and being able to put less effort into a swing with more output. I hope that will correlate into more power and boost my numbers.”
The 2011 season will be Snyder’s seventh in the organization and he knows the time has come to re-establish his prospect status. Is this a huge year for him?
“It seems like I am asked that every year. I don’t think it can get any bigger. I know what it’s like to play in the big leagues now (after last September’s callup) and it’s what I want to do. I don’t want to go back to Norfolk, but I know that is probably in the cards,” Snyder said. “Right now, I feel awesome.This is the best I’ve felt going into spring training and I’m excited to see how it’s going to feel when we get out there.”