Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Top Rays prospect Blake Snell drawing raves

PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP Blake Snell came into camp with considerable hype as one of the game's top pitching prospects and thus far has showed why after another impressive batting practice session Sunday that left teammates and bosses raving.

"The guy got every accolade possible in minor-league baseball last year, and I guess you'd much rather have it the way that it's going than him come in and not live up to the hype," manager Kevin Cash said.

"He has definitely fit the bill. But he just looks, the way I describe it, like a 12-year-old throwing 98 mph out there, locating all of his pitches."

Snell, 23, said he has been pleased with what he has done, working primarily on his four-seam fastball command.

"I feel really good, really, really good," he said. "I'm excited about it. I like the swings that I'm seeing. And I like how locked in I already am now, so I'm excited for what's to come."

Rene Rivera, who hit against him, said Snell's pitches were tough to pick up: "The ball gets in on you quick. … It's early in camp; if he's nasty now, he's going to be real good later."

Curt Casali, who caught him, praised Snell for being aggressive in attacking the zone ("just being able to shove it in there with the best of them") and also for maintaining his poise: "We wouldn't be able to tell if he was nervous or not just because of his demeanor — he's kind of got that glazed-over look sometimes, and it works to his advantage."

FOR STARTERS: RHP Jake Odorizzi is "projected" to start Wednesday's exhibition opener against the Nationals, but Cash said that could change as the team works through scheduling issues related to the planned-but-not-official March 20-22 trip to Cuba. On a five-day plan, who starts Wednesday would be lined up to pitch in Havana.

"There's a lot of schedule conflict with the Cuba trip, so we're trying to line that up correctly," Cash said. "You're not just talking about one game in Cuba, you're talking about three days that we have to factor in with how we're going to get all of our pitchers the work they need."

PITCHING IN: Based on their heavy 2015 workloads and projected usage this season in the bullpen, RHP Alex Colome and LHP Xavier Cedeno are being held back by design. Both are slated for bullpen sessions today, then their first live batting practices Thursday. RHP Brad Boxberger similarly might get some lighter duty. … RHP Ryan Webb took a precautionary day off rather than throw batting practice after experiencing some tightness in his left hamstring; he is slated to throw a bullpen today. … Cash said RHP Erasmo Ramirez was "lights out" in his batting practice session with "all the hitters … raving about his stuff." Cash also praised LHP Enny Romero and RHP Andrew Bellatti for their work.

MISCELLANY: Players and staff started the day attending an MLB-mandated meeting on domestic violence issues. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg is expected to make his annual camp visit Tuesday, after tonight's appearance at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg. … Tuesday's workout will be somewhat abbreviated due to the annual charity golf tournament. … Cash noted how well the outfielders threw during drills.

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