Blake Snell's 0.00 ERA and Other Eye-Opening 1st-Quarter MiLB Stat Lines
There have been some eye-opening starts to the baseball season this year at both the major league and minor league levels, but Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell takes the cake.
The left-hander has rattled off 46 straight scoreless innings to start the year, as he appears to be the latest in a long line of homegrown starting pitchers to come through the Tampa Bay Rays farm system.
He's not the only one turning heads down at the farm, though, as there are more minor leaguers putting together some impressive stat lines, prospect or otherwise.
So with that in mind, here is a closer look at Snell and nine other minor leaguers who have put together eye-opening starts to the 2015 season.
SP Chris Devenski, Houston Astros
2015 Stats (Double-A)
7 G, 4 GS, 4-0, 1 SV, 0.53 ERA, 0.882 WHIP, 20 H, 10 BB, 28 K, 34.0 IP
Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 25th round of the 2011 draft, right-hander Chris Devenski was sent to the Houston Astros in the Brett Myers deal at the deadline in 2012.
He's bounced between the rotation and bullpen during his time as a pro, making 51 starts and 43 relief appearances, and he's been lights-out in both roles so far this season.
For all that's been made of the scoreless streak Blake Snell has put together, the 24-year-old Devenski began the year with a 28-inning scoreless streak of his own.
Devenski talked with Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com about his strong start:
Just doing my thang. Trying to learn every day form my coaching staff, try to learn from other guys, experiment, see what works for me, what doesn't. I'm surrounded by such a great group of guys and the energy we have is really positive. We have such a great group; we feed off each other and grow off each other. That's my teammates.
His streak was eventually broken up by a solo home run from San Diego Padres prospect Travis Jankowski, but the 24-year-old has nonetheless opened some eyes in the early going this season.
3B Adam Duvall, San Francisco Giants
2015 Stats (Triple-A)
40 G, .319/.357/.625, 51 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 24 R, 10 BB, 39 K
On the older end of the prospect scale at the age of 26, Adam Duvall is making a strong case to earn the call-up to San Francisco with his hot start to the season.
An 11th-round pick in 2010 out of Louisville, Duvall saw his first big league action last season, hitting .192/.234/.342 with two doubles and three home runs in 77 plate appearances.
That came after he hit .298/.360/.599 with 21 doubles, 27 home runs and 90 RBI in 91 games for Triple-A Fresno, and his minor league track record is impressive enough to earn him another look in the big leagues.
Making the situation even more interesting are the early struggles of offseason-addition Casey McGehee, who is hitting just .190/.248/.276 over 105 at-bats as the team's primary third baseman.
"Like I tell everybody, I’m just trying to be the best baseball player I can be. The best offensive player, the best defensive player—that’s all I can control. I can’t control anything going on anywhere else," Duvall told Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee.
Duvall began the season as the No. 13 prospect in the Giants' system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
SP Steve Janas, Atlanta Braves
2015 Stats (High-A)
5 GS, 4-0, 0.56 ERA, 0.53 WHIP, 15 H, 2 BB, 23 K, 32.0 IP
A sixth-round pick out of Kennesaw State in 2013, Steve Janas was selected as something of a project with a 6'6" frame and some projectability despite the fact that he was a college arm.
The big right-hander was 9-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 78.2 innings of work during his junior year, after missing the bulk of his sophomore season with Tommy John surgery.
He made his full-season debut last year for Single-A Rome, going 2-6 with a 4.52 ERA and 1.403 WHIP while allowing 10.0 H/9 in 97.2 innings.
Despite those subpar numbers, the team bumped him up to High-A Carolina to open this season, and he's been fantastic so far with the best WHIP in all of minor league baseball among qualified pitchers.
The 6-foot-6 Janas throws his fastball in the 88-93 mph range. Thrown downhill from that frame with plenty of sink, it generates a ton of groundball outs. His slider can be a tick above average at times, and he mixes in a solid average changeup as well.
Janas mixes his pitches well and throws plenty of strikes. The further removed from elbow surgery he gets, the crisper his stuff has gotten.
It's not a bad start to the season for a minor leaguer who did not even rank among the Braves' top 30 prospects entering the season, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
SS Jorge Mateo, New York Yankees
2015 Stats (Single-A)
37 G, .250/.307/.321, 35 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 16 R, 29 SB
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for a $225,000, Jorge Mateo continues to turn heads with some of the best speed in all of professional baseball.
This year is his first taste of full-season ball, as he's playing for Single-A Charleston after spending the past three seasons in rookie ball, and he's held his own to this point.
Mateo began the season as the No. 3 prospect in the Yankees system, ranked behind only Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com's Prospect Watch pointed to Jose Reyes as a potential comparison, and he offered up the following scouting report:
Mateo's top-of-the-scale speed is his standout tool, allowing him to run wild on the bases and cover plenty of ground at shortstop. He's not just a slappy hitter, as he has the wiry strength to drive balls into the gaps. He needs to make more consistent contact but shows a willingness to draw walks.
The 19-year-old is still a long way from making an impact at the big league level, but it should be fun to see how many steals he can pile up this season. He had 64 career steals in 93 games heading into the season.
SP Steven Matz, New York Mets
2015 Stats (Triple-A)
9 G, 8 GS, 5-2, 2.24 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, 42 H, 20 BB, 61 K, 56.1 IP
A second-round pick by the New York Mets in 2009, and the team's first selection that year, Steven Matz has emerged as yet another high-ceiling arm in an organization loaded with them.
The team's No. 12 prospect heading into the 2014 season, he saw his stock shoot up with a strong performance last year, and he entered this season No. 2 in the organization, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
Matz made 12 starts each at the High-A and Double-A level last year, going a combined 10-9 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.193 WHIP and 131 strikeouts in 140 innings of work.
The 23-year-old made the jump to Triple-A this season, and he's continued to dominate, as he currently leads all of minor league baseball with 61 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.
There is no clear path to big league action for Matz at this point, and there's a chance Rafael Montero would get the call next if a rotation spot opened up, but he could still be a big piece of the long-term puzzle.
On the other end of the spectrum, Matz could also serve as a very attractive trade chip should the Mets try to pull off a big deal to shore up the roster for the stretch run this season.
CF Wes Rogers, Colorado Rockies
2015 Stats (Single-A)
40 G, .268/.364/.401, 38 H, 9 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 22 R, 28 SB
Wes Rogers was the Colorado Rockies' fourth-round pick last season out of JUCO Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina, where he hit .351/.479/.476, with 62 runs scored and 26 stolen bases.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com's Prospect Watch and many others have compared him to Dexter Fowler, and Mayo offered up the following scouting report:
Rogers uses his long limbs well to manipulate the bat at the plate. He has the chance to hit, and with some pop, but he needs to mature and add strength to his frame.
His long strides allowing him to cover a lot of ground in center field, where he undoubtedly will be able to stay defensively long-term. His speed plays on the base paths as well and he should be able to continue stealing bases. Rogers is a bit of a project, but one with some exciting tools.
The 21-year-old hit .283/.362/.425 and stole 15 bases in 16 attempts in 30 games for the team's rookie league affiliate after signing last year, and that was enough for him to open his first full pro season in Single-A.
His 28 stolen bases so far have come on just 32 attempts, and they rank second only to the aforementioned Jorge Mateo among all of minor league baseball.
It will be interesting to see how his overall offensive game comes together in the years to come, as he has a chance to be a real difference-maker with his wheels.
1B Jon Singleton
2015 Stats (Triple-A)
39 G, .295/.406/.651, 9 2B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 32 R, 28 BB, 32 K
Acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies as the centerpiece of the Hunter Pence trade back in 2011, first baseman Jon Singleton was handed a five-year, $10 million extension before he even made his major league debut.
The Astros gave him an extended look as their everyday first baseman last season, and while he had 13 doubles and 13 home runs in 310 at-bats, he hit just .168/.285/.335, with 134 strikeouts, in the process.
The team's offseason acquisition of Evan Gattis made for a crowded situation at the first-base/designated-hitter position, and Singleton wound up shipped to Triple-A to begin the year.
Were it not for how well the Astros are playing as a team and the coaches not wanting to shake up the current chemistry, Singleton likely would have already been recalled.
He's currently leading all of minor league baseball in home runs (13) and RBI (44), and his 28-to-32 walk-to-strikeout ratio is certainly a positive sign after how much he struck out last year.
The 23-year-old will be back in Houston at some point before the season is over, and the hope remains that he can be the long-term answer at first base.
SP Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
2015 Stats (High-A and Double-A)
8 G, 6 GS, 6-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 18 H, 19 BB, 54 K, 46.0 IP
The No. 52 overall pick in the 2011 draft, left-hander Blake Snell opened the season as the No. 9 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
The 22-year-old old enjoyed some decent success last season while splitting the year between Single-A and High-A, going 8-8 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.309 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 115.1 innings of work.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com's Prospect Watch offered up a scouting report on Snell:
Snell gets good life on his low-to-mid 90s fastball. He has developed a good feel for his offspeed stuff, and his slider and changeup both have the potential to become plus offerings. He cut his walk rate significantly in 2014, but it remains below average and he'll need to make further adjustments to reach his potential as a starter.
His command has indeed improved, as he's trimmed his walk rate from 4.4 bases on balls last year to 3.7 BB/9 this year. That includes a terrific 2.9 BB/9 mark in four starts since being promoted to Double-A, and he's put himself on the fast track with his hot start.
SP Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 Stats (Double-A)
7 GS, 2-3, 3.00 ERA, 0.944 WHIP, 25 H, 9 BB, 46 K, 36.0 IP
The term prodigy is a risky one anytime you're talking about an athlete, but it's fitting in the case of Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias.
His signing was somewhat overshadowed by the signing of Yasiel Puig, as the two were inked on the same scouting trip back in 2012, with Urias agreeing to a $450,000 bonus out of Mexico.
From there, Urias was immediately sent to full-season ball with Single-A Great Lakes, where he posted a 2.48 ERA, 1.104 WHIP and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innnings in 54.1 innings at the age of 16.
He's continued to climb the organization ladder the past two seasons, and he made his Double-A debut this year as one of the youngest at the level. The 18-year-old has been up to the task so far, pitching to a 3.00 ERA and 0.944 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 36 innings.
He recently opted for elective eye surgery to fix a condition he's had since childhood that leaves his left eye nearly closed and is expected to be sidelined for a month, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
If nothing else, it's an unexpected way for the team to control his innings, and there is still a real chance he could make an impact out of the big league bullpen down the stretch this season.
His future remains in the rotation, though, where he could join Clayton Kershaw to form a lethal lefty duo atop the staff.
SP Randy Wolf, Toronto Blue Jays
2015 Stats (Triple-A)
8 GS, 3-0, 0.94 ERA, 1.396 WHIP, 47 H, 20 BB, 33 K, 48.0 IP
The above stat line would be impressive regardless of who it was coming from, but it's made more impressive by the fact that it's a 38-year-old pitcher in Randy Wolf who's done it.
A second-round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies back in 1997, there is a time when Wolf was quietly one of the better pitchers in the National League.
In his eight seasons in Philly, the left-hander went 69-60 with a 4.21 ERA, and he earned a spot on the NL All-Star team in 2003.
That said, Wolf has not been a reliable big league starter since 2011 when he went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wolf made six appearances (four starts) for the Miami Marlins last season, going 1-3 with a 5.26 ERA, and he settled for a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays this spring.
With the Blue Jays sitting 29th in the majors with a starter's 5.20 ERA, it may not be long before the team rolls the dice on Wolf at the big league level. They may need to act soon, though, as he has a June 1 opt-out if he's not on the big league roster.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted. Bolded stats indicate player is leading all of MiLB in that category.