ST. PETERSBURG — Winning Baseball America's minor-league player of the year award Wednesday put a fitting cap on top LHP prospect Blake Snell's tremendous season.
But Snell, disappointed to not be called up by the Rays, already has his eye on a much bigger prize.
"I have a lot to work for and a lot to motivate me through this offseason and make me that much better so that when I do get a shot in spring training, I can be a part of that big-league ball club," Snell said.
Snell, 22, certainly seemed to earn the opportunity after opening this season with a 46-inning scoreless streak and going on to post a 15-4, 1.41 record with 163 strikeouts in 134 innings as he moved from advanced Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham.
He is the ninth player to win both the Baseball America and USA Today player of the year awards in the same season, including then-Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson in 2010. OFs Rocco Baldelli (2000) and Delmon Young (2005) won the Baseball America honor.
After winning the Rays' minor-league pitcher of the year award in 2014, Snell decided — after a talk with his father — to work harder starting that offseason and commit himself to maximizing his potential.
"I wanted to be the best player in minor-league baseball, so that was something I was working really hard to do," he said. "For it to happen the way it did, I could not be any more happier with myself."
ASDRUBAL RELIEVED: SS Asdrubal Cabrera is hoping to return to action in the next few days after an MRI exam showed no damage beyond the initially diagnosed strain in his left knee.
Cabrera said he "felt a pop" under his kneecap while taking a swing in the fourth inning Tuesday and was concerned there was a more severe injury. Manager Kevin Cash said it was described to him as "jumper's knee, kind of a basketball injury."
"We're not going to push it, but we want him on the field," Cash said. "For us, for Cabby. He's put together a tremendous year, especially with this really strong second half, and we want him to finish strong. He does a lot of things to help us win, so when he says he's good to go, he will be back out there. But we will be smart over the next day or two."
Nick Franklin started at shortstop Wednesday, and Cash said Tim Beckham also will get a chance.
Cabrera, headed to free agency after playing on a one-year contract, is hitting .262 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs.
BLOOM BREWING: The Rays granted the Brewers permission to interview VP Chaim Bloom for their general manager's job. The first talk will take place today, per Fox Sports.
INSTRUX UPDATE: The Rays' 48-man roster for the fall instructional league under way in Port Charlotte includes 2015 top pick OF Garrett Whitley, 17-year-old Dominican SS prospect Adrian Rondon and the two pitchers acquired from Minnesota, RHPs Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia.
MEDICAL MATTERS: LHPs Xavier Cedeno (left side tightness) and Jake McGee (left knee surgery) will throw to hitters today at the Trop in the next stage of their rehab. C Curt Casali (left hamstring strain) is far enough along to hit against them, but Cash said OF Desmond Jennings (left knee bruise) is not. All are expected to play before the Oct. 4 end of the season.
MISCELLANY: The Rays are 2-for-30 with runners in scoring position over their past five games. … Yankees 1B Greg Bird hit a mammoth homer in the ninth off RHP Andrew Bellatti that struck the D-ring catwalk above rightfield. … The Rays wore Roberto Clemente Day T-shirts for batting practice. … Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was in the stands.