Snell delivers scoreless start for Triple-A Durham

Tampa Bay's No. 1 prospect has 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 frames this year

Snell delivers scoreless start for Triple-A Durham

Blake Snell continued his surge toward the Major Leagues on Tuesday by throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings as Triple-A Durham lost to Gwinnett, 6-5 in 10 innings.

Snell, the Rays' top-ranked prospect and No. 12 on the Top 100, allowed two hits and struck out nine in his second start of the season, but three late walks and an elevated pitch count kept him from completing five innings.

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The left-hander cruised through the first four frames without issuing a walk before losing steam in the fifth, when he threw 31 pitches and walked the bases loaded. The final batter he faced in the outing, Daniel Castro, fouled off six consecutive pitches before ultimately drawing an 11-pitch walk, which pushed Snell's pitch count to an even 100 (61 strikes) and ended the 23-year-old's day. Though his efficiency left something to be desired, Snell was still highly effective as he induced 15 swinging strikes and five ground-ball outs.

Snell was named MLBPipeline.com's Pitcher of the Year in 2015, when he paced all qualified Minor League starters in the Minors in ERA (1.41) and finished fourth in strikeouts (163). He opened the season with 46 scoreless innings between the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels to earn a late-July promotion to Durham, where he posted 1.83 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 57/13 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings (nine starts).

While Snell's chances at another unimaginable scoreless-innings streak came to an end in his season debut last week, when he allowed two runs over five innings in a win versus Charlotte, he still boasts a Snell-like ERA of 1.86 through his first two turns, as well as 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.