‘Crazy’ journey to pro ball for Muscatine’s Snider | Midwest Baseball League

All Duncan Snider wanted was one last chance.

“If it didn’t work out, I was ready to go and call it a career,” Snider said.

Instead, the 24-year-old Muscatine native is pitching into affiliate professional baseball for the first time in his life.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander, who worked as an accountant for the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine less than a year ago, is now 5-0 in eight appearances on the mound for the San Diego Padres affiliate at Lake Elsinore in the California League.

Snider was assigned by San Diego to his low-A team after coming to the attention of the Padres after a 16-out game while pitching for the Lake Country DockHounds, a team based in Oconomowoc, Wis., which plays in the Independent American Association.

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“I was on the mound on a Wednesday night in Wisconsin and Saturday I was in California and was in the Padres organization,” Snider said. “It’s pretty crazy, how fast it all happened.”

Getting to this point has been a journey in itself for Snider.

After having Tommy John surgery during his high school career at Muscatine, where he also played football and basketball, Snider began his college career at Marshalltown Community College in 2017.

He then spent three seasons in Upper Iowa, completing his fifth year of college eligibility with the NCAA Division II program in 2021 earning a spot on the all-defensive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference team in one season. 4-3 who saw him pitch. a league-leading 64.2 innings.

Snider made his professional debut with the Tucson Saguaros in the Pecos League in 2021, paying for his own meals, gas and living expenses with the independent league team.

“The team paid for a hotel room on the road, and that was it, but it was a pitching chance and that’s what I was looking for. I wanted that chance,” Snider said.

At the end of the Pecos League season, Snider was given the chance to join the Houston Apollos of the American Association for the final weeks of the season.

The team was a traveling team in this league, playing all of its games on the road in one of the most highly regarded independent leagues in the country.

Snider made three more starts before the end of the season, then returned home to Muscatine with his baseball future uncertain.

“I went to work with the Community Foundation and was helping guys on the Muscatine High School team and I loved it,” Snider said.

But as fall turned into winter, the pitching itch remained strong.

“I wasn’t sure there would be an opportunity for me, but I had a buddy who knew a guy who knew a guy who knew the guy who worked with the DockHounds and I was able to take a look. eye and then have a chance to pitch for their team in Wisconsin,” Snider said.

“They signed me and it was great because if it didn’t work out, if I didn’t get a chance to play this summer, I was done. I’m pushing 25 but I wanted one last chance. “

After his 2021 season-ending sample with the Apollos, a return to the American Association was also something Snider welcomed.

“It’s a tough league to get into. The rosters are crawling with former major leaguers, former first-round picks who didn’t make it but are still incredibly talented, former minor leaguers, just all kinds of guys “said Snider. “For a rookie like me, it was a great place to learn.”

And on June 29, it was a great place for Snider to thrive.

He struck out 16 batters and walked one in a win over Milwaukee, striking out nine consecutive batters at some point in the fourth through seventh innings.

Snider doesn’t think there were any scouts at the game, but his efforts were noticed.

The Orioles and Mets scouts contacted Snider the following day. Other teams called DockHounds management, which owned the rights to Snider’s contract, and eventually the Padres purchased his contract in Lake Country and Snider was on his way to California.

He was assigned directly to Lake Elsinore where Snider made his first appearance for the Storm on July 6, working a no-hitter relief run.

Four days later, he made his first start and picked up a victory scattering three hits in 5.2 innings, striking out five batters.

With a win in his last start Tuesday at Stockton, Snider is now 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA. He struck out 42 and walked six in 34 innings of work.

“I feel like I started well. I’ve thrown a lot of strikes and halved my walks this season,” Snider said. “Most of my throws have been in the zone.”

His slider became one of his most effective throws, complementing his fastball and curveball.

“Everything got better for me,” Snider said. “I feel good, I feel confident.”

Along with getting the chance to pitch for a team that made the playoffs, Snider had the chance to pitch against the Padres’ major league hitters before an early August game at Dodger Stadium.

“I was supposed to have a day in the bullpen between starts that day and instead of throwing in the bullpen they decided to send me to Dodgers Stadium to give their big league guys a different look during the game. pregame,” Snider said.

“I think I got picked because none of their guys saw me and I threw a lot of shots. It was a pretty awesome experience.”

Snider is expected to attend the Padres’ pedagogical league camp after the season and looks forward to where it all might lead, including the possibility of promotion to San Diego’s high-A Midwest League affiliate, Fort Wayne.

“I just appreciate the opportunity I have,” Snider said. “It’s still a bit crazy to believe that here, at almost 25, I have a chance to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing.”

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