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Twins should give ex-Gopher with booming fastball a look

The lefty is looking for a second chance in the big leagues.
DJ Snelten

While fans wait for the Twins to possibly make a big move at the Winter Meetings, there's a relatively unknown reliever looking for a new team.

D.J. Snelten, a former big leaguer and Golden Gopher, has a big-time fastball that could be a big boost in the bullpen.

At 6' 7" and north of 200 pounds, Snelten was selected in the 9th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. Snelten rose through the ranks with a mid-90s fastball and made his MLB debut in 2018 but shoulder issues sunk his chances of sticking around.

Shortly after his cup of coffee, he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Baltimore Orioles only to cut in spring training. 

With no MLB contract, Snelten found a home in the independent ranks with the Chicago Dogs (a divisional foe in the American Association with the St. Paul Saints) in 2019. The left-hander had a solid season and saw his velocity return to mid-90s, going 7-3 with a 3.12 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 118 innings.

Snelten, 27, is still showing off his big-time arm and is using social media in hopes of landing another opportunity in the majors. One of his latest bullpen sessions showcases his fastball humming at 97-99 mph.

Since wrapping up his time in Chicago, Snelten is actually back at the University of Minnesota finishing his degree in sports management.

"We're kind of in an era right now where there's a lot of velocity out in the market," Snelten said to NBC Sports last month. "In order to compete you have to look that way and go that route. Pitching and getting outs always comes first, but before you do that you've got to get your foot back in the door. I'm just praying for an opportunity to get my foot back out there."

MLB scouts will do their due diligence but the Twins should definitely take a look, even if it's just a minor-league deal and/or an invite to spring training. And as Sullivan Bortner of Minnesota Athletics noted in a September feature on Snelten, the Twins were planning to draft him before the Giants took him a few picks ahead of them. 

The fact Snelten is a southpaw helps his chances of getting another MLB opportunity, and Minnesota makes some sense because they aren't loaded with lefty relievers. Taylor Rogers was great last season, but try to think of another lefty reliever (Devin Smeltzer was a starter/reliever) off the top of your head. 

Giving a lefty with an upper-90s heater a look is harmless and could bring big benefits down the road. 

In Snelten's three seasons with the Gophers, he had a 3.21 ERA before turning pro. 

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