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Olympic Infielder Attempts Baseball's Triple Jump

Cory Snyder--his Spring Training Diary

March 06, 1985|STEVE SPRINGER

TUCSON — Sandy Koufax. Al Kaline. Dave Winfield. Bob Horner. Cory Snyder.

Cory Snyder?

Does a 22-year-old Canyon Country kid without so much as a single major league at-bat really belong up there with those other big-league stars?

Snyder thinks so. He thinks he can skip the class A, AA and AAA leagues. And he's going to spend the next month trying to convince the Cleveland Indians of that.

Snyder is currently in spring training in Tucson, Ariz., trying to win Cleveland's second base job and thus join the above-mentioned players and only a handful of other major leaguers who have never spent so much as a day in the minors.

If numbers impress the Indians, who finished sixth in the American League's Eastern Division last season, Snyder has plenty to put on his resume.

He capped off a brilliant amateur career in last summer's Olympic Games by hitting .400 with two home runs and seven RBI in five games as America's shortstop.

The 6-4, 185-pound Snyder was an all-CIF Southern Section pitcher for the Canyon High School Cowboys in his senior year. He won 14 of his school's 17 victories.

He went on to Brigham Young University, where his valuable bat took him off the mound and made him an everyday player.

And valuable it was.

He began his collegiate career with three straight home runs on the first three pitches he saw against Nevada Las Vegas and never stopped. A three-time All-American in his three years at the Utah school, Snyder wound up with more home runs (73) than any collegiate player had ever hit in three years and was second in NCAA history in that department. He set an NCAA record for career slugging percentage with an .844 mark. He had a .462 batting average his final year and wound up with a career mark of .432. He owns seven BYU career hitting records and six all-time marks in the Western Athletic Conference.

The No. 1 choice of the Indians (No. 4 overall) in last summer's baseball draft, Snyder was sent to the Florida Instructional League's Southern Division after the Olympics. He gave opposing pitchers a few lessons of his own.

In 46 games, he won the league's triple crown with 14 home runs, 53 RBI and a .390 batting average. He also led the league in hits (73), doubles (18), runs scored (45) and slugging percentage (.733).

The big question now is whether Snyder, who now lives in Camarillo, can move from shortstop to second base, where veteran Tony Bernazard is the incumbent. Bernazard hit .221 in 140 games last season.

The Indians have begun spring training with an open mind about their second base situation. And Cory Snyder is on their minds.

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