The Tampa Bay Rays announced that top pitching prospect Blake Snell has been called up from Triple-A Durham and will make his major league debut Saturday afternoon against the New York Yankees.
With the Rays in the midst of playing nine straight games the Rays needed a fifth starter for their game on Saturday against the New York Yankees as their scheduled starter for the game Erasmo Ramirez was needed in relief during Thursday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.
Ranked as the Rays No. 1 and MLB.com’s No. 12 overall prospect entering the 2016 campaign, Snell so far this season with Triple-A Durham has made three starts going 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA along with 21 strikeouts. He’s allowed 15 hits and given up seven walks in what looks to be a limited workload early on as he’s pitched no deeper than five innings. In 12 career Triple-A starts, he has posted a 7-3 record with an ERA of 1.99, while striking out batters at a rate of 12 per nine innings.
Selected by the Rays in the first compensation round and the 52nd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Blake Snell had a breakout year in 2015 earning the honors as Baseball America’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year as he posted unimaginable numbers last season flying through three levels of the Rays system – High-A Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. His combined record at those three stops was a 1.41 ERA with a 15-4 record, 1.02 WHIP and 163 strikeouts and giving up just 84 hits in 134 innings pitched.
He becomes the Rays third pitcher to make their major league debut at Yankee Stadium and the first as a starter. He joins David Price (2008) who made his debut as a reliever and Bobby Seay (2001). Additionally, Snell becomes the fifth first-round draft choice to start for the Rays, joining Jason Standridge (1997), Dewon Brazelton (2002), Jeff Niemann (2004) and David Price (2007).
Snell was told of his promotion on Friday morning from Durham manager Jared Sandberg that he would not be making his scheduled start against Buffalo later that night, but instead would be starting on Saturday in the Bronx against the Yankees.
“I got called up to pitch against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium,” Snell said. “I’m not happy about that, I’m just not a happy person.”
Opposing Snell on Saturday will be right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in three starts this season. In his career against the Rays Tanaka is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.70. However, 14 of the 16 hits and all six of the earned runs the Rays have recorded against Tanaka have come at Yankee Stadium.
Snell arrived at Yankee Stadium before Friday’s game and walked out of the dugout midway during batting practice to take a look-see at the stadium and where he would be making his debut the next day from. “It looked like Yankee Stadium,” Snell said. “It was pretty exciting. I don’t know how to describe it. I just know I’m pretty lucky to be here and I’m excited for it.”
Snell will be officially added to the roster before Saturday’s game and in a corresponding move to make room for him on the 25-man roster, reliever Danny Farquhar was optioned to Durham. Farquhar had a 3.38 ERA in six appearances this season and allowed seven hits while striking out five.
Snell is expected to make just this one spot start and the head back to Durham following the game as the Rays will not need a fifth starter for the next three weeks. “He is going to come in and give us a start and then it’ll be basically considered a spot start,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The recall of Snell and the corresponding move of Farquhar are the Rays first two 25-man roster transactions since Opening Day. At this same time last season (17th game) the Rays had already made 22 transactions as they dealt early injuries.
In the Rays 12-8 on Thursday over Boston, Erasmo Ramirez won his fourth game of the season (third in relief) tying Chris Sale of the White Sox for the major league lead. Ramirez he has recorded four of the Rays seven wins.
By the Numbers
Snell becomes the first Rays pitcher to ever wear a single digit. Snell asked for No. 4, the number he wore playing baseball until he signed with the Rays. The lowest number worn by a Ray was No. 11 by Hideo Nomo in 2005. Snell wore No. 11 in the minor leagues, but that number belongs to Logan Forsythe. Coach Jamie Nelson gladly gave up his No. 4 and will now wear No. 44.
“It’s something that you just fall in love with,” Snell said. “It means something to you. I’ve had it since I was a kid. And I’m still kind of a kid. I feel like pitching in the big leagues is something I’ve always dreamed about.”