The Dayton Dragons have sent 57 players to the Major Leagues, from Jay Bruce and Joey Votto to their own "Moonlight" Graham. He is Ryan Snare, a left-handed pitcher who spent one outstanding season with the Dragons and got to the Major Leagues for one game in 2004. As brief as it was, Snare's single appearance forever places him among the group that millions of kids have aspired to be a part of for generations.
Snare was drafted by the Reds in the second round in 2000 out of the University of North Carolina. Despite having five draft picks over the first three rounds, the 2000 draft was a particularly disappointing one for the Reds. First round pick David Espinosa never reached the Major Leagues, and the other four prospects drafted in that group combined to play a total of two games for the Reds. The remaining 46 players drafted that year by the Reds combined to play in only 21 games for Cincinnati, all by former Dragon Stephen Smitherman.
Snare had a great 2000 season at the University of North Carolina, going 10-1, and signed with the Reds. His professional debut came with the Dragons on Opening Night in 2001 when he beat Fort Wayne with five shutout innings and 10 strikeouts. Snare was strong all season long for a Dragons team that went 82-57. That was the Dragons club that featured Smitherman, Wily Mo Pena, Samone Peters, and set a franchise record for home runs that still stands. Three of the five Dragons starting pitchers off that team also got to the Major Leagues, including Snare, Josh Hall, and Dustin Moseley.
"He was a hard-working guy," remembers Dragons Director of Baseball Operations John Wallace, who served as strength and conditioning coach at that time. "That was one of my favorite teams. We were strong in our first year (2000) but stronger yet in 2001."
Snare finished the year in Dayton with a 9-5 record and a 3.05 earned run average. He struck out 118 batters in 115 innings, certainly good enough to move up to Stockton in the California League the next season, which would turn out to be an interesting year for Snare.
After 13 starts in the California League, Snare was 8-2. That got him moved up at mid-season to Double-A Chatanooga, and he was showing good progress for a player with only one and one-half years of professional experience. But two weeks after arriving in Chattanooga, Snare's career took a turn. He walked into the clubhouse one day and noticed on the locker room television tuned to ESPN that the Reds had made a trade. The scroll at the bottom of the screen said that Cincinnati had acquired pitcher Ryan Dempster from the Marlins. Snare recalled his thoughts in a story in the St. Petersburg Times.
"Hey, that's kind of cool," he thought. "Then it says who they traded for and one of the names is left-handed pitcher Ryan Snare. That looked like my name but it didn't seem real. I asked the guy next to me, 'was that my name?'
Snare had been dealt to the Marlins along with Major League outfielder Juan Encarnacion and utility man Wilton Guerrero for Dempster, who was just 25 years old at the time and appeared to be a big pickup for the Reds.
It was an unusual way to find out he had been traded, but Snare packed his bags and reported to Portland, Maine, where the Marlins' Double-A affiliated played. Snare pitched well enough the rest of that season to be rated as the 11th best prospect in the Marlins organization heading into 2003. It was positive recognition for Snare in a Marlins farm system that was loaded with prospects like Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dontrelle Willis. Baseball America named Snare as the "Pitcher with the best Curveball" in the entire farm system and described him as having "an aggressive nature and an intense personality."
Snare pitched well in 2003 but on July 11th, exactly one year to the day after he was traded by the Reds, lightning struck again. He was dealt to Texas as part of a package for all-star reliever Ugueth Urbina. Snare must have been doing something right. Twice in 366 days, a big league club had traded for him as part of the deal for an established Major Leaguer.
Snare went to Triple-A after the trade and returned to Oklahoma City again in 2004. In late April that season, after just two starts in the minors, the Rangers promoted Snare to the big leagues. Like any Minor League player, he was thrilled.
"It's something I've waited for my entire life and it finally came," Snare said in a story on MLB.com. Unfortunately, five days later, without ever getting to throw a pitch in a game, he was sent back to Triple-A.
In early August, he was rewarded for his efforts with another promotion to the Rangers. This time, he did see game action. On August 6, Snare made his only career Major League appearance, a relief outing at Baltimore. He allowed five runs in three and one-third innings and was sent back down. He finished the year with a strong 11-6 record in Triple-A.
Snare struggled in the minors in 2005, was released by the Rangers at mid-season, and signed by the Padres. In 2006, he made seven starts in Double-A in the Kansas City Royals system, struggling again, and his career was over at the age of 27.
Ryan Snare has since moved into a successful career in sales and currently works in Telecommunications with Comcast in the Atlanta area. He was the 10th Dayton Dragons player to reach the Major Leagues.
Click Here for Ryan Snare's Major League Statistics.
Click Here for Ryan Snare's Minor League Statistics.