Snyder Positive He'll Overcome Negatives

Brad Snyder

Brad Snyder admits there were a lot of times he wasn't much fun to be with this past summer. While the Indians and their Class AA farm team, the Akron Aeros, were disappointed with Snyder's lack of progress, the multi-talented outfielder was downright disgusted. Now, he realizes that he was his own worst enemy and is eager to bounce back with a big offensive season in 2007.

"I wasn't a great person to be around just because of how bad I was doing," said the 6-3, 200-pound product of Ball State University who bats and throws left-handed.

Snyder, who has been regarded as one of the Tribe's top prospects ever since being a first-round draft choice (18th overall) in 2003, was experiencing the worst offensive year of his life.

Through Aug. 20, he was hitting a very un-Snyder-like .255 with 14 homers and 61 RBI and had struck out an alarming 139 times in 466 at-bats. This from a guy who had a career .287 average through his first three minor league seasons and had clubbed 44 homers with 188 RBI in 1,152 professional at-bats.

The only saving grace for Snyder's 2006 season were his final 16 regular season games when he hit a robust .386 (22-for-57) with four homers and 11 RBI. Included were 4-for-4 games against Trenton on Aug. 27 and Altoona on Aug. 29, the latter of which included two homers and five RBI.

He then hit .270 with one homer and eight RBI in 10 playoff games for the Aeros.

Snyder, a right-fielder with a very strong arm and excellent speed, says he didn't really do anything different during his hot streak. "I messed around and found a few things that worked, but nothing major. It was more a mindset than anything.

"I had a change of attitude," he said. "When I walked into the clubhouses, I just forced myself to be positive."

That wasn't an easy thing to do, mainly because of all of the negativism created by his constantly striking out.

"That (striking out) has always been the main focus for me," he said. "It is always in the back of your head. But when it is in the front of your head (as it was last season), you struggle even more with it. You try as hard as you can to keep it in the back of your head or not in your head at all, but that's tough to do."

Ross Atkins, the Indians' player development director, says Snyder's biggest problem is strike zone recognition.

"That's very simple for us to talk about, but very hard to do," said Atkins who added that he is confident Indians minor league hitting coordinator Dave Hudgens, given time, will be able to help Snyder with his problem. "Dave Hudgens is one of the best in the minor leagues."

Snyder says that confidence will be the key for him this spring when he battles to try and win an everyday job playing right field for the Class AAA Buffalo Bisons.
,br> "If you don't have confidence, you are going to get eaten up at any level. I got my confidence back the last month (of the '06 season). I'm looking forwarding to taking that same confidence into spring training," said the native of Sandusky, Ohio, who grew up a big Indians fan.

Snyder, who has struck out 30 percent of his professional plate appearances, admits he sometimes has trouble concentrating on the other areas of his game when he struggles at the plate.

"There are days when you are struggling and not feeling very good," he said. "When you have two bad games in a row it starts creeping into (your defense) more than it should."

Snyder believes he will be able to deal with his problems better in the future.

"I'm older and more experienced now," said Snyder, who will turn 25 years old on May 25. "I think I'm learning to deal with it better."

Atkins acknowledges Snyder didn't have the season that Indians brass had anticipated in 2006, but is confident things will change in '07.

"Brad is one of the best prospects we have from a tools standpoint," said Atkins, who took over this year as development director from John Farrell, who resigned to become the Boston Red Sox's major league pitching coach.

"Brad hasn't performed to the level that we would like and I'm sure he'd tell you that. But we have by no means lost any respect for who he is as a professional player and who he can be."

Snyder is currently participating in the Tribe's annual Winter Development Program. This year, the Indians brought 18 of their top prospects in for either two or three weeks.

In addition to Snyder, other two-week participants include Adam Miller, Ryan Mulhern, Nick Pesco and Tony Sipp. Three-week campers who were scheduled to participate include Astrubal Cabrera, Kyle Collins, Trevor Crowe, Aaron Laffey, Juan Lara, Scott Lewis, Chuck Lofgren, Andy Marte, Tom Mastny, Shawn Nottingham, Reid Santos, Sean Smith and Wyatt Toregas.

During their stay in Cleveland, they live with host families. Atkins, who played in the Indians minor league system for five year, says he is much like the players in that he also is living with a "host" family.

Atkins and his wife Christine, who is from the Cleveland area, are still living in Miami, where they resided while he served as the team's director of Latin American operations the past three years. They recently had their first child.

"I'm staying with my in-laws. They have one bathroom and three bedrooms. I get up at 5 every morning to make sure I have hot water," he said with a chuckle.

The winter development program will run through Jan. 26.

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