Starter. Reliever. And now, All-Star.
Rainiers pitcher Forrest Snow joked that his selection to the Triple-A All-Star Game in Omaha, Nebraska, is his first since Little League.
He is one of three Tacoma Rainiers picked for Wednesday’s game; joining him is shortstop Ketel Marte, but not first baseman Jesus Montero, who was promoted to the majors and will not play.
“It’s an honor,” Snow said. “There are a lot of great pitchers out there in the league, and it’s a tough league to play in. I was looking through the roster and all these guys I’ve been facing are pretty impressive, so we’re going to give the International League a run for their money.”
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Because the Pacific Coast League is known as a hitter’s league, Snow said it’s tough to put up good numbers. He noted the ball has exceptional carry in many venues around the league, although Cheney Stadium is one of the more pitcher-friendly parks.
“Reno, Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso, Salt Lake, Colorado Springs; they are all a pitcher’s worst nightmare,” he said. “You really learn quickly to keep the ball down and you can’t take any pitches off.”
Taking that advice to heart, Snow has delivered perhaps his best season since joining the Seattle Mariners organization as a 37th-round draft pick in 2010. This season, Snow has a 3.03 ERA and a 7-6 record. He has struck out 69 and walked 27 in 86 innings.
“It’s probably the most consistent I’ve been (in my career),” he said. “I think that’s the name of the game. When you step out on the field, you want to do the same thing every time. You have a routine you stick to. But in terms of numbers, probably (my best season).”
The performance comes on the heels of an abbreviated 2014 season when Snow was suspended 50 games after his second positive test for a drug of abuse. The 26-year-old right-hander looks back on the incident with remorse, but believes that he has come out ahead on the field and in his personal life.
He said he used the time away to work on some of his pitches and develop a healthier mindset in a less stressful environment.
“I tried to take away many positives from it,” he said. “It was not a good situation. I learned from it and just try to stay positive.”
Because he logged only 76 innings that season, Snow pitched five games for Bravos de Margarita, a team in the Venezuelan Winter League. He went 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA in his 261/3 innings.
Part of the reason he did it was because he felt like he owed the Mariners organization for standing by him during his suspension.
“I wanted to experience baseball internationally,” he said. “It was a great time. I fit in with the team well. A little bit of a culture shock, though.”
Part of his connection to the Mariners is that they are his hometown team. Snow was born in Seattle, played high school baseball at Lakeside and then at the University of Washington.
While he was in high school, the Mariners drafted him in the 44th round of the 2007 draft, but Snow opted to go to UW. The Mariners drafted him again three years later.
“This is my dream job,” he said. “There’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
Snow has started and relieved this season, much like he has throughout his minor league career. He said Mariners pitching coach Rick Waits told him that it’s a tough role to fill. Snow has started 13 of his 20 games this season.
Rainiers manager Pat Listach lauded Snow’s versatility, noting how useful it can be to have a pitcher who is comfortable both starting and coming out of the bullpen.
“His ability to go back and forth makes him really special,” Listach said. “It’s kind of like having a super utility pitcher.”
In previous years, Snow said he would rather have stayed in the bullpen. But this year, he said he feels stronger as a starter. He has begun to learn how to attack lineups multiple times and make adjustments when necessary, as opposed to working as a reliever when he would only see a handful of batters.
“I like to have a solidified role,” he said. “But at the same time, if that versatility is beneficial for the organization, then I’m fine with bouncing around wherever they need me to.”
Listach said Snow’s stellar season could have the Mariners calling sooner rather than later.
“(With) the work he’s putting in and the numbers he’s putting up, I think he gets a call up to Seattle sometime soon,” Listach said. “He’s really pitched well.”
Staff writer Ben Goldstein contributed to this report.