Hope Solo has been coming up big for the US Women's National Soccer Team this past week and change. Many of you may not care about women's soccer, but she's a former UW Husky and though I didn't need that connection to follow their recent exploits, it does provide me with a tenuous excuse to bring up the University of Washington. Speaking of that, have you seen how Tim Lincecum is still awesome? Man, he's awesome at pitching.
Tim Lincecum is not the focus of this post however. In a way, not quite parallel Tim Lincecum is. Lincecum is 5' 11" with heels on and the Mariners passed him over for a guy with diabetes. In contrast, also native son and Husky alum Forrest Snow is a towering 6' 6" and the Mariners actually did draft him. Twice they drafted him even! It's like the team was intentionally trolling me with that one. No matter, the Mariners have Forrest Snow in the organization and his performances are worthy of paying attention to.
Snow is a name some of you will recognize as a local product through and through. Born and raised in Seattle, the Mariners drafted Snow out of high school in the 44th round, but he elected to attend UW instead. He sat out a year with a torn labrum and returned only to spot starting duty after that, serving mostly in relief for the Huskies. Still, the Mariners gave it another go and selected Snow in last year's 36th round and this time he signed.
I searched and did not find anyone on the webs local or national who expected much out of Snow, but numerically, he has done nothing but impress as a pro. Not just impress in the "he's stayed healthy" style of success, but also in a "he's kicking ass" manner. He split last season between Everett and Clinton's bullpen and recorded 52 strikeouts, 16 walks and just 1 home run allowed. BABIP is notorious fickle for pitchers, but Snow might have been doing something to avoid hard contact as his line drive rate in Clinton was microscopic.
That's a mighty fine season, but out of the bullpen, at a low level, and coming in with college experience, it's little wonder why Snow still seemed to garner no attention even around the Mariner blogosphere. However, Snow shifted back to the rotation in 2011 and now he begins to be interesting. Sticking in Clinton to start the year, the strikeouts held up at around one per inning, but the control was a touchy problem. Not that Snow has poor control, but it seems a bit inconsistent. He only walked 19 in Clinton, but plunked another eight. Nevertheless, his 117 tRA+ shows him worthy of the promotion he got about a month ago to High Desert.
It was a rough introduction to Advanced-A ball. Snow had allowed five home runs in 120 professional innings at the time of his raise. 7.2 innings in the Cal League later, and he had surrendered five more. Welcome to pitching in parks like Stockton and High Desert, Forrest. It is a bit different down there. The last three starts (including Wednesday night) however have been better with just a single home run.
Beyond the numbers, Snow offers some intriguing projection. As he gets further away from his shoulder surgery, his fastball has reportedly regained some life and now sits in the low to mid-90s. There's the standard assortment of change, curve and slider as well, but I am not qualified to speak on their effectiveness. Much like with Willy Kesler, Snow isn't likely to end up lighting up prospect lists at the end of the year, but has done about all that could be asked of him in his two seasons so far. Now that Snow is back as a full time starter though, his ceiling could prove useful down the road.