ROME, GA — Huascar Ynoa is yet another young arm in the stacked Atlanta Braves minor league arsenal. The young righty took on Kannapolis on Tuesday, July 3. He went a solid five innings before struggling in the sixth, unfortunately not all to his own doing.
Ynoa is a freshly-turned 20-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Minnesota Twins before the 2014 season and worked his way up Rookie ball levels until he was the return in last year’s deadline deal with the Braves for Jaime Garcia.
He’s listed at 6-3, 175 but he may be a tad bit heavier than that as he looks a little bulky. He takes the first base side of of the rubber, and has a double tap on the mound during his delivery. It felt like he didn’t use enough of his arm to me (sometimes looked like a push as opposed to a throw if that makes sense), but he was still able to light up the radar gun. Unlike in warmups, his follow through leg kick is very defined, almost violent sometimes. For the most part, he repeated his delivery, which was a problem I had heard he struggled with in the past.
He works pretty quickly, so much so that the batter stepped out of the box with time out called and Ynoa still began his delivery on two different occasions. It was almost as if he got the sign and was just in pitch mode, not paying attention to the timeout called.
Ynoa is, obviously, a starter now and could very well stay there if he improves up the ladder. He has a three-pitch arsenal with a fastball, curve and changeup, the secondary pitches behind in consistency, but not necessarily in “stuff”. He will be one to watch in this stacked system if a bullpen switch may come down the road.
Ynoa was incredibly efficient through the first five innings. He worked all three pitches, although was primarily fastball and that may be an understatement. His curve was nice and breaks hard. There were two in particular that were tantalizing and came across at 82 and 84, one induced and ugly chase and the other froze the batter. He seems to be able to get it to slide across the plate as well, but the breaking version was much prettier.
The fastball is consistent and he held the velocity around 95 for much of his performance although there were a lot more 93s after the fourth inning. The change was not, but he got one nice one at 87 that had a little fade and looked like a possible strike three but the ump called it a ball. Regardless, if that is what his changeup can consistently become it could very well be an efficient pitch.
There weren’t many first pitch strikes, but he also didn’t throw many pitches in the first five innings. Ynoa got a lot of contact early in the counts and after going 3-2 on the leadoff batter, he rarely went deep into one. He didn’t even record his first strike out until the fourth inning. The huge positive is that he is a ground ball machine, inducing 12 ground outs to just three fly outs. Still, the contact was loud and often.
Through four innings he had thrown 48 pitches, 31 of which were strikes, so he clearly isn’t afraid to go at hitters. He struggled in the sixth, but he also had little help in the infield behind him. He did allow the first two to reach via base hits, but then the error parade continued and by the time the sixth was over, three unearned runs scored and Ynoa finished the day clinging to a one-run lead.
His final line was: 6 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs (only one earned), 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He finished landing 56 of his 97 pitches for strikes so you can see how his command and consistency wavered a bit later in the game. Overall a solid performance that was undone by some unfriendly fielding.
Ynoa is an interesting one, one of those pitchers that just one viewing is not enough to pass judgement. A few people felt that he may be better suited in the bullpen and I can definitely be on board with that. Still, he is just 20 and his secondary pitches do show signs of life and there is certainly some power in his arm. Though they aren’t there yet, I think the Braves can continue the starter experiment a bit longer before making the final judgement.