Ian Dante Snell
born Ian Dante Oquendo
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 170-200 lb.
- High School Caesar Rodney High School
- Debut August 20, 2004
- Final Game June 14, 2010
- Born October 30, 1981 in Dover, DE USA
Ian Snell has had an erratic seven-year major league career.
Snell's father left him at a young age and he changed his name from Ian Oquendo (his father's last name) to Snell, his mother's name. Snell only spoke to his birth father once (as of June 2009) and that was via telephone.
In high school, Snell was involved in many sports. In football, he was a running back, quarterback, cornerback and safety. He was a sprinter on the track team and played shooting guard for the basketball team. Drafted in the 26th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Snell was signed by scout Dana Brown and went 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 4 relief appearances with the GCL Pirates.
In 2001, he went 3-0, 0.47 for the GCL Pirates and 7-0, 1.39 for the Williamsport Crosscutters to emerge as a prospect. He walked 15 batters in 84 innings. In the New York-Penn League, he was second in ERA behind Ross Peoples and made the All-Star team.
In his third professional season, 2002, Oquendo finally lost a game. Pitching for the Hickory Crawdads, he went 11-6 with a 2.71 ERA at age 21 and fanned 149 batters in 140 frames. He was 8th in the South Atlantic League in ERA that season. In 2003, Oquendo was 10-3 with a 3.33 ERA (9th in the Carolina League) for the Lynchburg Hillcats, fanning 122 and walking 33 in 116 innings. Promoted to the Altoona Curve, Ian went 4-0 wit ha 1.96 ERA; after four seasons in baseball he was 32-9. He was named the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the 9th-best prospect in the Carolina League.
In 2004, the 23-year-old righthander changed his name back to Ian Snell. After an 11-7, 3.16 season for Altoona, Ian was named to the Eastern League All-Star team as the right-handed pitcher. He was sixth in the EL in ERA and managers picked him as the 19th-best prospect. Given a cup of coffee in the late-season call-ups, Snell appeared in three games for Pittsburgh, with an 0-1 record and a 7.50 ERA.
Spending the majority of the 2005 season with the Indianapolis Indians, Ian went 11-3, 3.70 with 104 Ks and 23 walks in 112 innings, with opponents hitting .216 against him. He was 1-2, 5.14 in 15 games for Pittsburgh.
Placed in the Pirates' starting rotation in 2006, Ian was the lone African-American player on the team, a far cry from the Pirates of 27 years earlier, who had 10 black players or of 35 years earlier, when they used the first all-black lineup in baseball history. Later in the year, he was joined by Shawn Chacon and Rajai Davis. Snell went 14-11 with a 4.74 ERA for the Pirates that year and his K/9 rate of 8.2 was 10th in the 2006 NL, but he led the club with 29 homers allowed. Snell was named "Delaware Athlete of the Year" by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association.
Snell missed a start in June 2007 after burning his hand while cooking chicken. He finished the season with a 9-12 record but topped the Pirate' starters in ERA (3.76) and innings pitched (208). The Bill James Handbook reported that 35.5% of Snell's pitches in 2007 were sliders, the most in the NL.
In March of 2008, Snell signed a three-year extension with two teams options for $8 million guaranteed. Snell fell to 7-12 with a 5.42 ERA that season, with a 1.76 WHIP. He was among the top 10 in the 2008 NL in runs allowed and walks issued but nothing else.
Snell, who was married to Angelica Davila, became close to her father, Juan Davila, who became his father figure. Snell applied to play for Puerto Rico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic because of his father-son relationship with Puerto Rican national Juan Davila. His uniform for the Puerto Rican national team read Davila Snell.
Snell struggled with the Pirates in 2009, starting off 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA and 44 walks in 80 2/3 innings. His 17.5 pitch per inning rate was the highest of all MLB starters. He was leading the 2009 NL in losses and was 4th in walks through June 25th. Snell then asked general manager Neal Huntington to send him to the minor leagues to get away from "negativity." Huntington agreed and optioned him to Indianapolis; Virgil Vasquez took his spot in Pittsburgh. In his first game with the Indians, Snell fanned 17, including 13 in a row against the Toledo Mud Hens. Snell would go 2-2 with a 0.96 ERA in six starts for Indianapolis.
Just before the trading deadline, Snell was sent with Jack Wilson to the Seattle Mariners for Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, Ronny Cedeno and Nathan Adcock. He went 5-2, 4.20 in 12 starts for Seattle, finishing the year with a combined record of 7-10, 4.84. However, things went completely sour in 2010 with Seattle. He made 8 starts in 12 appearances and finished at 0-5, 6.41. He allowed a lot of circulation on the bases, with 60 hits and 25 walks in 46 1/3 innings, while striking out just 26 opponents. He never returned to the big leagues after that.
Sources include "Look around, it's just me" by Dejan Kovacevic in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/9/06, "Snell asks to be demoted" by Dejan Kovacevic in the 6/26/09 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2001-2006 Baseball Almanacs
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2007)