Seattle native Blake Snell has had the best season to date of any pitcher in minor league baseball.
The Tampa Bay Rays prospect had delivered 46 consecutive shutout innings until allowing a run in the first inning Saturday night for Double-A Montgomery.
That’s right: He’s a starting pitcher, he has been healthy all season, and he had a 0.00 earned-run average as of May 22.
Tampa Bay selected the left-hander out of Shorewood High School in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft, making him the 52nd player chosen overall.
The 22-year-old had a 3.94 ERA in 16 starts for Single-A Charlotte of the Florida State League last year, so the Rays decided to have him open this season at the same level.
After 21 scoreless inning in a row for Charlotte, the Rays promoted Snell to Double-A. He pitched shutout ball in his first four starts for Montgomery, totaling 25 innings.
“Well, you would think at some point it would have to come to an end,” Montgomery manager Brady Williams recently told MiLB.com. “I don’t want to say it’s never going to stop, but I know he’s got good enough stuff to keep it going. You would hope (the streak) doesn’t take over his mind, but based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think it does.”
The longest scoreless streak in recent minor league history was turned in by Tennessee Smokies right-hander Brad Thompson, who reached 572/3 straight shutout innings in 2004. The all-time minor league record is 72 innings by Birmingham’s Irv “Kaiser” Wilhelm in 1907 and 1911 (which includes a three-year gap while he was in the big leagues).
ZYCH FINALLY REACHES IOWA
New Tacoma Rainiers reliever Tony Zych was trying to get to Des Moines, Iowa, for 21/2 years — and he finally made it, as a visiting player.
The parent-club Seattle Mariners acquired the hard-throwing right-hander from the Cubs’ organization in a trade for cash considerations at the end of spring training.
Zych attended high school in Chicago and was drafted by his hometown team out of the University of Louisville in 2011. But he never made it out of Double-A Tennessee, where he appeared in 112 games from 2012-14.
This season Zych (rhymes with “sick”) made 10 appearances for Double-A Jackson, posting a 3.18 ERA before he was promoted to Tacoma just in time for the Rainiers’ trip to Iowa.
“I joked with the guys in the bullpen that I finally made it to Iowa,” Zych said after pitching a scoreless inning on Friday
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.