Cy Sneed is a stereotypical outdoorsman, with a 6-foot-4 frame and thick beard, it’s not hard to envision the Round Rock pitcher sitting on a ridge in the middle of nowhere for hours admiring every single detail.
“You can sit there and see everything that’s in view, but you aren’t really seeing everything,” he said. “There’s so much more than what’s at first glance, and you’re always seeing new stuff.
“There’s so much more than meets the eye.”
The same can be said for the 26-year-old righty, who has been one of the most consistent arms for the Express this season, boasting a 5-6 record and 4.48 ERA with 59 strikeouts over a team-high 70.1 innings pitched.
“He’s kind of hit his stride and just rolled off some good outings one after another,” Express manager Mickey Storey said. “You can get caught up a lot in your minor league career trying to be something you aren’t. Cy has been around and he’s kind of found himself and he’s found a good amount of success.”
Sneed and his wife, Hannah, live just outside of Anchorage, Alaska during the offseason and have made the trek home from wherever the pitcher has been based for the regular season. The long drives have been eventful, to say the least.
On one stretch of the road on the way home, a truck stopped ahead of Sneed and his wife, Hannah, to let a herd of buffalo migrate across the pavement. And they’ve seen all sorts of wildlife from grizzly bears to lynx along the route.
But also while heading home from Fresno following the Triple-A season last year — a 4,000-mile trip — the duo was about three hours from home with no hiccups when another car slammed into their door.
“You never really know what’s around the next corner,” he said.
Sneed can’t ever remember not playing baseball. His dad, who played in college and was drafted by the Mets, had Cy and his older brother, Zeb, who was drafted in the 11th round in 2012, in the yard doing baseball things from an early age.
He honed his batting skills in a homemade batting cage and competed with his bother on how many throws in a row they could go before letting the ball hit the ground. The record stretched well into the hundreds.
Born in “the middle of nowhere” in northern Nevada, Sneed and his family moved to Twin Falls, Idaho specifically to concentrate on baseball. Cy played four years at Twin Falls High School and spent his summers with the Twin Falls Cowboys, an American Legion team.
Tim Stadelmeir coached Sneed at both Twin Falls High School and with the Cowboys. The high school team hadn’t won a state title since 1990 until Sneed helped the Bruins win in 2011.
Stadelmeir said the then-senior was beating down the door of his hotel room asking for the ball in the final game of the best-of-three championship series despite pitching in the opening game and the squad to the title.
“I haven’t coached a lot of kids like him with that passion and that grit,” Stadelmeir said. “He made the mark for a lot of our kids. We won two more titles after that and Cy was a big part of getting that going. With his mentality and work ethic, we knew he was going to do something special.”
Even after getting drafted in the 35th round by the Texas Rangers and recruited by numerous schools across the country, the down-to-earth Sneed wanted to finish where he started and returned to the Cowboys for one more season with the American Legion team.
After pitching at Dallas Baptist University, he was selected in the 3rd round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 and eventually traded to the Astros organization for infielder Jonathan Villar in 2015. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Sneed posted a 10-6 record with a 5.97 ERA in 26 appearances across 114.2 innings pitched. He struck out 95 batters and walked 40 in that timeframe.
He said he made some mechanical adjustments after that year and focused on throwing fastballs in and a lot of changeups. It’s only grown from there.
Sneed spent the full season in Triple-A last season, lowering his ERA to 3.83 with 114 strikeouts and 53 walks while leading the team with 10 wins and 127 innings of work. He won PCL Pitcher of the Week once after allowing just two hits over a complete game performance.
“I just kind of put everything together and tried not to stress out about it,” he said. “In 2017, I was stressed out all the time and struggled to figure things out. It was kind of about baseball having its place and knowing it’s not the most important thing in the world.”
Everything came to a head earlier this season when Sneed flirted with perfection for the first time in his career.
He was flawless through 7.1 innings on May 22 in a win against the San Antonio Missions and needed just 88 pitches to retire 24 of 25 batters he faced and propelled Round Rock to a shutout victory.
“The whole night, I was really calm. It was a lot of fun,” Sneed said. “If you don’t know what’s going on (while it’s happening), somethings wrong. I kept thinking that I could do this. This season has really just been a huge step forward.”