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Prospect Snell enjoying bounce-back season

Lefty cutting down on walks, striking out more than batter per inning

Last season yielded disappointing results for left-hander Blake Snell: a 4-9 record, a 4.27 ERA and 73 walks in 99 innings.

So far, by the looks of it, he's done more than turn the page. The Rays' No. 9 prospect has started a whole new chapter in his career.

Snell, 21, struck out nine and allowed only four hits over seven scoreless innings Friday as Class A Bowling Green beat Lake County, 5-0. In doing so, Snell improved to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.79.

The Rays had 10 of the first 60 picks in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. They used the 52nd overall selection on Snell, coming out of Shorewood (Wash.) High School. He posted impressive numbers in the Gulf Coast League in 2011 and for Rookie-level Princeton in '12. But his first full-season campaign was mostly disappointing.

In eight starts this year, Snell has done his best to put that behind him. He's cut down on his walks, issuing 19 in 40 1/3 innings, while striking out more than one batter per inning. He's only allowed 26 hits and one homer in eight starts, and four of his last six outings have been quality starts.

The Rays' Double-A Montgomery club also boasted a few impressive performers Friday. Third baseman Richie Shaffer, Tampa Bay's No. 12 prospect, went 2-for-4 with a double one day after a three-hit performance in which he homered and doubled. Shaffer, the Rays' first-round pick in 2012, is slugging .535 this season -- a vast improvement on the .399 figure he posted in 2013.

Overall this season, Shaffer is hitting .240/.315/.535 with seven homers, nine doubles, four triples and 21 RBIs.

Shortstop Jake Hager continued his impressive offensive campaign, bringing his batting line to .309/.375/.441 as he hit his 11th double of the season. Right-hander Dylan Floro, the Rays' Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2013, picked up his fourth win as he tossed eight shutout innings.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Tampa Bay Rays