Oakland A's MLN: Ynoa To Stockton's Bullpen

One of the Oakland A's top pitching prospects will have a different role in 2014. Will it speed his path to the big leagues?

Ynoa Changing Roles In 2014

As he enters his second option season, Michael Ynoa will have a new role in 2014. The right-hander will be pitching out of the bullpen rather than the starting rotation this season. Oakland A's Assistant General Manager David Forst confirmed the move on Thursday and confirmed that Ynoa would start the season with High-A Stockton.

Although Ynoa is just 22, he has just this season and next to make the major leagues before he is out of options. Ynoa signed with the A's as a 16-year-old in 2008, so he was added to the A's 40-man roster before the 2013 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. At the time he was added to the roster, Ynoa had thrown only 39.2 professional innings and none of those innings came above the short-season level.

The 2013 season was Ynoa's best as a pro. He split the season between Low-A Beloit and High-A Stockton, tossing a career-high 75.2 innings. Ynoa struck-out 68 and posted a 3.69 ERA. He tired at the end of the season, however, and would likely have been limited to 100 innings as a starter this season. That would have limited his ability to develop as a starter. Now in a relief role, Ynoa should be able to pitch without restrictions.

Ynoa pitched well during minor league camp out of the bullpen. He also logged his first innings in major league camp earlier this spring. In both of his outings in big league camp, Ynoa pitched better in his first inning of work than he did in his second inning.

Ynoa made one relief appearance last season for Stockton. It was his second-to-last outing of the year and Ports' broadcaster Zack Bayrouty came away from watching Ynoa in that game thinking Ynoa had a future in the ninth inning (he earned the save).

"That outing was impressive," Bayrouty said during an off-season interview. "It was only one inning, but I think that outing is something for him to build on going forward."

The A's have had success fast-tracking pitching prospects to the big leagues as relievers. Former A's prospect Santiago Casilla moved from Low-A to the big leagues in his first year as a reliever in 2004 (he was known as Jairo Garcia at the time). Sean Doolittle moved from High-A to the big leagues in his first season as a reliever in 2012, while Andrew Bailey converted from starter to reliever midway through the 2008 season and was in the big leagues at the start of 2009 (he won the AL Rookie of the Year that year).

A's Notes

- The A's returned to the Bay Area on Wednesday for the Bay Bridge Series, which began on Thursday. Starter Scott Kazmir made his final spring appearance and was impressive, tossing 5.1 scoreless innings. He will start game two of the 2014 season for the A's. Josh Reddick hit a two-run homerun and Josh Donaldson had an RBI double and an RBI triple in the game. The A's beat the Giants, 4-0.

- OF Michael Taylor told A's beat reporters before the game that he expects to be placed on waivers or traded before the start of the season. Taylor has had an outstanding spring, but the A's have been leaning towards an outfield of Reddick, Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Craig Gentry or Sam Fuld since the start of camp. Gentry will begin the year on the DL, but Fuld is expected to take Gentry's spot on the roster until Gentry is healthy. The A's should be able to find a trade partner for Taylor, who has three homeruns this spring and has played well for Triple-A Sacramento the past three seasons.

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