Snell worked five innings, allowing one run on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts. The 23-year-old lefty blazed in fastballs in the mid 90s while wowing hitters with a nasty curveball. The Rays bullpen couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead that he left with.
Blake Snell knew that his first major-league start would be his only one for the time being.
But after his impressive performance Saturday at Yankee Stadium, it’s not difficult to envision that his second big-league start will be just around the corner and that he’ll be there to stay.
Snell, the Rays’ top prospect and No. 12-ranked prospect by Baseball America, was called up to make a spot start for the Rays against the most recognizable team in baseball. He was immediately optioned to Class AAA Durham after the game.
But what the Shorewood High grad did against the Yankees impressed teammates and opponents.
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Snell worked five innings, allowing one run on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts. The 23-year-old lefty blazed in fastballs in the mid 90s while wowing hitters with a nasty curveball — his best pitch.
A win would have been nice for Snell, but the Rays bullpen couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead that he left with. Regardless, Snell embraced the moment.
“Every time I went out, I kind of just would look and just enjoy it,” he told the media. “It was something I’ll never forget, for sure.”
Of course, that’s after he shook off some early nerves.
“They were there,” he said. “I didn’t think they were. It was more like I was really anxious. I was trying to do too much. But after that I feel like I kind of got into my groove. I felt more confident. I didn’t feel as anxious out there.”
Snell had his mother, girlfriend, brothers and a handful of other relatives and friends in attendance at Yankee Stadium. But his father, Dave, is the head coach at Shoreline Community College and couldn’t make the debut.
Snell earned some compliments from the opposing team.
“You can see why there is so much buzz about him,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said to the media.
“I thought he had a really live arm. He’s got a good breaking ball. I’m sure he’s got a really bright future. Not looking forward to having to continue to face him, obviously a guy in our division with an arm like that. But that’s what the Rays do every year, they seem to put out yet another guy that will impress you. And I was impressed.”
Kela out for three months
While one locally developed pitcher was making his big-league debut, another was recovering from elbow surgery.
Rangers reliever Keone Kela, a graduate of Chief Sealth High School, had surgery Friday to remove a bone spur from his elbow and will miss the next three months.
The Rangers discovered the condition near the end of last season, but Kela opted for rehab instead of surgery. But the elbow continued to cause problems.
“The MRI is very clean with the exception of a bone spur in the back of the elbow,” general manager Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News.
“The options would be rest or to get the bone spur cleaned out, which is where he is leaning. It doesn’t bother him every time out, but he’s of the mindset that he wants to get back to 100 percent.”
Last season as a rookie, Kela made 68 appearances, going 7-5 with a 2.39 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 662/3 innings pitched.
Current players in MLB from Washington
• Steven Souza, OF, Rays: The Everett native is off to a solid start, hitting .275 with two doubles, three homers and eight RBI.
• Michael Conforto, Mets, OF: The Redmond grad is seeing consistent time in left field and hitting .271 with five doubles, two homers and eight RBI.
• Jake Lamb, 3B, Diamondbacks: A standout at Bishop Blanchet and Washington, Lamb is one of Arizona’s top hitters, batting .310 with seven doubles, a triple, two homers and 10 RBI.
• Trevor May, RHP, Twins: The Kelso grad is working in the Minnesota bullpen and has a 2.00 ERA in eight appearances with 15 strikeouts in nine innings.
• Adam Conley, RHP, Marlins: The Olympia High grad and former WSU standout cemented his spot in the Miami rotation last season. In three starts this year, he’s 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA.
• Jon Lester, LHP, Cubs: The Bellarmine Prep grad is the No. 2 pitcher for a Cubs team that is expected to win a World Series. He’s 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA in four starts this season.
• Eric O’Flaherty, LHP, Braves: The well-traveled Walla Walla native is back with the Braves, the team he’s had his most success with. O’Flaherty has an 8.10 ERA in 10 appearances.