In our Stealth Bomber series, we talk to players in the farm system who aren’t yet on the New York radar, but hope one day to be so.

Matt Snyder was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2012 draft. For his first year in pro ball, the Ole Miss product is playing at Short-Season Staten Island, where’s he’s already putting up big numbers (.303/.403/.443).

The 22-year old Virginia native has a very unique story. First, he comes from a big baseball family. His older brother Brandon currently plays first base for the Texas Rangers. His twin brother Michael is a minor leaguer in the Angels organization. His father Brian spent time with several different organizations and saw some big league action.

That’s not where the story ends. Matt suffered a severe facial injury in the summer of 2011, which will hurt your face just reading about it. We talked to Matt about his incredible comeback, his family, his approach to hitting, being drafted by his favorite team, and much more.

Sensei John Kreese: You’re putting up some nice numbers so far. What’s clicking for you?

Matt Snyder: Just knowing what got my here. Staying with my approach, no matter if I have a good day or bad day at the plate. I’ve been working with my hitting coach [Ty Hawkins] and trying to keep my body from moving forward when I hit. I just trust in what I have and know what got me here.

SJK: I’ve talked to other players in the organization, and they tell me the Yankees have some sort of rule that they can’t change anything about the way you play for a certain amount of time. Has that been your experience?

MS: Yeah, it’s the 30-day rule. For 30 days, they just watch what you do. They can’t change your swing, the way you throw, or even how to lift. They want to know how you reached this point.

SJK: Even lifting?

MS: Yeah. They don’t touch you at all. They want to see what you did before and then what you need to work on.

SJK: So it’s been over 30 days for you, have they recommended any changes for you?

MS: Not really. They changed some things in the weight room, but hitting-wise, not really.

SJK: How often do you need to lift?

MS: Me, I probably need to lift every day [laugh]. We lift 2-3 times a week, but I try to put in some extra ones. I’m one of the guys trying to put on a lot of weight, so I’m lifting probably 4-5 times a week. I’ll get some in after games with my weight coach, or on an off-day.

SJK: Does everyone on the team go to the same gym, or can you go to whichever one you want?

MS: We go to one right near our hotel. They’ll split the team up into two groups and our weight coach will be there. Our weight coach needs to be there.

SJK: Tell me about your approach at the plate.

MS: I’ve always been the kind of guy…I hate striking out. I like to work the count. I want to make sure the pitch I’m swinging at is one I really want to hit and hit well. I try to see the ball very well, and make sure I’m swinging at strikes and taking balls. I’ll take the walk if they’re not throwing strikes.

My biggest thing has always been quality at-bats. My brother and dad have always told me about quality at-bats. My hitting coach at Ole Miss was big on that too. Having a quality at-bat is the only thing you can control. You can hit the ball really well…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lined out. But I try to be positive about it and continue to have quality at-bats. I want to hit the ball hard whether it falls for a hit or not.

SJK: How would you rate the competition in the NY-Penn League versus what you were facing in college?

MS: I don’t know to be honest. On Friday night in the SEC, we were facing guys who were top picks for pitchers and a lot of them skip this league. Sometimes in the SEC we were facing guys throwing 97-98. I haven’t faced anybody like that yet here.

SJK: Well, you played in a great conference.

MS: The SEC is the top in the country, so it was really good competition.

SJK: So where did your brother go to school?

MS: My twin brother?

SJK: Yeah.

MS: He went to Ole Miss for two years and then he transferred to Florida Southern. He’s raking over in Orem, Utah, which is the Angels short-season team.

SJK: So he got drafted this year too?

MS: Yes, he was drafted this year also.

SJK: Your older brother [Brandon] is playing for the Rangers. Where did he go to school?

MS: He was actually drafted out of high school. He was supposed to go LSU, but he was 13th overall by the Orioles, so that was a tough thing to turn down.

SJK: You were drafted last year by the Nationals. What happened?

MS: It’s kind of a long story, but I was talking to teams a few days before the draft, and the Giants and Nationals were the top teams I was talking to — like this year, I was going to go in the top 10 or 15 rounds. I was excited about that.

I went home to play a couple games [in the Valley League - summer wooden bat league] just to stay ready and once I was drafted, I’d go to wherever I needed to go.

In my first game at summer ball, I got hit in the face by a fastball. It shattered my face. I had to have face surgery. That was two days before the draft.

I had to call those teams up and tell them what happened. The Nationals said they’d still get me, but they’d get me at a lower pick. But, they’d still give me the same deal as long as I came back healthy. They drafted me in the 44th round.

I came back and hit ten homeruns in twelve games, but they didn’t think I was healthy enough.

SJK: That is unbelievable. So they didn’t sign you because of your face?

MS: I shattered my cheeks bones, my orbital bone, and my jaw. I shattered the bone that holds my eye up. I have two titanium plates that keep my eye from drooping down.

SJK: Holy crap!

MS: I had my surgery and everything came back fine, but they didn’t think I was healthy enough.

SJK: Did they think your vision would be affected and you wouldn’t be able to see the ball?

MS: I guess so, but I proved it to them when I came back. My mom and dad told me that things happen for a reason, and now I’m with my favorite team who I’ve dreamed about playing for since I was two years old.

SJK: Major props to you for coming back so strong, but that is a crazy story! That must have been incredibly painful.

MS: Sometimes people ask me if the pitch knocked me out. It didn’t, but I wish it did. I felt my whole face cave in.

SJK: What about the pitcher? He must have felt like garbage.

MS: My twin brother was on the same team as me. He was on first base, and his first thought was to go after the pitcher, but he saw the kid’s reaction. The kid went down on his knees, then walked off the field, packed up his stuff, and went home the next day. He was messed up after that, and supposedly doesn’t even play anymore because of what happened. It was like you filled a water bottle up with blood and then had it explode.

SJK: Ok, so you came back and ended up being drafted in the 10th round this year. There was actually a lot of talk that because of the new draft rules this year, college seniors were being drafted early so teams could save money for later picks. Do you think the Yankees short-changed you at all because of this drafting strategy?

MS: It’s always a weird situation for seniors coming out of college. I knew coming into the draft that there would be a “senior discount”, and you don’t get as much as a guy coming out of high school or a junior in college. I wasn’t short-changed, but if you put your hard work in, your signing bonus isn’t where you’ll get your money from. The new deal didn’t change much about the money you got as college senior.

SJK: I actually heard that some organizations, not the Yankees, were offering college seniors about $1,000.

MS: The Royals called me and asked if I’d take a $1,000. I was like, “No. I know I’m a senior, but that’s not fair.” It’s tough to keep your composure when you get a call like that, especially when you had a great season.

SJK: Besides the Royals and Yankees, who else was interested?

MS: The White Sox and the Mets. Actually, I thought the White Sox would be the team, but I got lucky and went to the Yankees.

But, those were the teams that called me and scouted me. I met with most of the teams, but those were the teams that talked to me the most on draft day.

SJK: Who did you talk to on the Yankees?

MS: The scout that drafted me was Andy Cannazaro. He was really cool, a nice guy.

SJK: What types of things are you working on now?

MS: My defense. This was my first full year in college of playing first base because I had a shoulder injury that kept me off first base for a couple seasons. I DH’d my freshman year, which I absolutely hated. But, I was a freshman and I understood.

Sophomore year, I got first base and was excited to play. In our first away series, we were at Tulane. They have a turf field that plays real fast. I dove for a bag and my arm get caught in the bag, and I dislocated my shoulder. For the rest of the year, it kept coming out and coming out. I dislocated it twelve times. I had to have surgery after my sophomore year. My junior year, I was back at first and in our first scrimmage, my arm came out again.

So now, I’m just working on getting better at first base. Our manager, Justin Pope, he’s been helping me a lot with footwork, throwing to second base, knowing where to go on the pitch, knowing where to go on a relay throw…I’m trying to soak up as much as I can. I really like playing first base. He says I’m doing a really good job, so I’m excited about that.

SJK: Your defense, is this stuff you’re working on before the games or do you have dedicated practices? How does that work?

MS: On gamedays, we come to the field around 12:30 and get lunch. After that, we’ll get early hitting and then get some early defensive work. The infielders will take groundballs and work on double-plays. Next, we’ll have team defense, like relays from the outfield. Then, we go to BP and we’ll take live groundballs. We don’t stop practicing until the game starts. You can’t complain, it’s all baseball.

SJK: That’s all I got, Matt. Continued success and best of luck.

MS: Awesome talking to you. Really appreciate it. Anytime you need anything, just let me know.

SJK: Thank you. I appreciate it too.

Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to talk to NoMaas. What a great kid and what an amazing story. Make sure you follow him at Staten Island and catch a home game if you’re in the area. Tell him NoMaas sent you.