The Cubs have been in the business of signing hard-throwing, left-handed pitchers the last couple years and they got another one on Tuesday.
Cubs Sign D.J. Snelton
D.J. Snelten announced via Twitter that he signed with the Cubs, a year after he was playing for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association independent baseball league.
officially signed with the @cubs organization! Having an opportunity to play for the cubs has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid going to Wrigley Field every summer since I can remember! Thanks to @RaysBaseball for an opportunity to compete this past season! #GoCubsGo pic.twitter.com/HmJeGCzjld
— DJ Snelten (@DJSnelten) November 17, 2020
Snelten’s early career
The Lindenhurst, Ill. native was drafted by the Padres in the 30th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, however Snelten decided not to sign and continued his baseball career at the University of Minnesota. In 2013, the Giants picked the left-hander in the ninth round of the draft and signed him to his first professional contract.
Snelten put up good numbers in the minors, posting a 3.31 ERA in 410.1 innings, mainly working as a reliever. He only had a brief time in the majors, appearing in four games with the Giants in 2018, before he was sent back down to the minors and then DFA’d later that season.
The Orioles picked him up in June 2018, but was ultimately released before Opening Day 2019. At this point, Snelten was at a crossroads in his career and opted to go close to home and pitch in independent ball with the Chicago Dogs. And believe it or not, it’s during this time that Snelten began to reinvent himself, but it took some social media magic to make it happen.
Snelten goes from low 90s to 100mph
Yes, Twitter can be the absolute worst thing on Earth, but for pitchers trying to get another chance at the pro level it’s been the best thing on social media. For Snelten, Twitter is where he not only got the exposure that eventually landed him a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason, but it’s where he was able to reach out to the coach that has changed his career.
Via the Tampa Bay Times.
First, Snelten reached out via direct message to Nick Sanzeri, a college coach, instructor, advisor and consultant he had seen on Twitter helping pitchers at all levels.
Snelten sent Sanzeri videos, asking for evaluation, specifically if he was using his legs enough. Sanzeri replied that he clearly wasn’t, that if he did he could add 5-6 mph to his fastball, and offered some advice, such as the positioning of his hips.
“I was like, if there if there’s even a one percent chance that’s true, that’s the difference between being out the door and having all the opportunities presented in front of you,’’ Snelten said.
Snelton went from touching 93mph up to 96mph after his second bullpen following instruction from Nick Sanzeri.
DJ Snelten sitting 95-96 in his 2nd bullpen of the offseason.
We’ve worked hard to fix his hip internal rotation & load phase. Thank you to @primeathletics1 for making these concepts stick.
DJ has MLB experience. He’ll touch triple digits soon.
— Nick Sanzeri (@SanzeriBaseball) November 15, 2019
The Rays took notice and signed him a month later. Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and minor league baseball getting canceled in 2020, Snelten wasn’t able to show off his new fastball and good changeup against other opponents. However, Snelten was at Tampa’s alternate training site during the 2020 season and you can’t really ask for a better organization to be a part of to help with your development as a pitcher.
After the World Series was over Snelten became a free agent, but that didn’t mean it was time to relax. He’s now up to 100mph and he got even more exposure from the Pithing Ninja on Twitter.
He's available to sign with your favorite team!
And, next time, DJ promises he will hit 101 wearing his PitchingNinja T shirt. pic.twitter.com/K3Tfv7HvSN
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 10, 2020
A little more than a week later, Snelten signed with his childhood team, a dream come true for the 28-year-old who now has a new outlook on his career.