Prospect Video: Ynoa back on the mound
After nearly four years of various injuries and setbacks, the Michael Ynoa saga took a positive step forward on Saturday.
Entering Saturday's game against the Surprise Rangers in the rookie-level Arizona League, Ynoa had logged just nine total innings over three starts––all with the AZL Athletics in 2010.
The Dominican Republic native initially signed with the Athletics for a record-setting $4.25 million bonus on July 2, 2008. Although he was eligible to pitch during the 2009 regular season, he missed the entire campaign due to tendinitis in his knee and elbow soreness. An issue with his wisdom teeth followed by a strained back kept him out for much of extended spring training in 2010.
Ynoa finally made his professional debut by logging those nine innings during the summer of 2010, but he was shut down in early July and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the balky right elbow.
After sitting out the 2011 season to rehab his surgically repaired elbow, Ynoa entered 2012 looking to finally get a full season of game action under his belt.
But, as reported by Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubouse.com, the talented prospect suffered yet another setback while warming up to appear in an early May extended spring training game. He'd suffered a right shoulder strain and was shut down from his throwing program indefinitely.
Ynoa finally got back on the mound under the lights and in a competitive situation on Saturday––almost four years to the day after he signed the record-setting deal.
While it was only a scheduled one-inning (or 20-pitch) appearance, Ynoa flashed excellent stuff in the short stint.
The 6-foot-7, 210-pound hurler tossed a perfect first inning against the Rookie Rangers. He struck out one (on a 78 mph curveball) and got two flyouts, working around a two-out walk. Ynoa threw 12 of his 20 pitches for a strike.
He was also facing a talented group of Rangers hitters. As shown in the following video, Ynoa struck out 2012 Rangers first-round pick Lewis Brinson. He induced a flyout against second-round pick Nick Williams. First baseman Ronald Guzman, a Dominican Republic native who signed for a $3.5 million bonus last summer, worked an eight-pitch walk. He finished the frame by getting 2012 supplemental first-round pick Joey Gallo to fly to right.
But perhaps most importantly, Ynoa's stuff was good. After all the injuries and setbacks––plus a surgery––there were plenty of questions about whether or not Ynoa would still show the talent that made him arguably the most sought-after pitcher ever on the international amateur market.
Working solely from the stretch in his inning, Ynoa pounded the lower portion of the strike zone with a lively 91-95 mph fastball that had excellent armside run. While he missed the zone with all three of his 86 mph changeups, the pitch also had lots of life with good fading and sinking action. He threw three curveballs––between 75-78 mph––and two for a strike. Though he didn't seem to completely have a feel for the curve, it showed tight spin with good depth during warmups.
There's no telling whether or not Ynoa ultimately realizes his massive potential. But Saturday's performance showed that the power arm with good, lively stuff is still there, and the A's hope the 20-year-old prospect can begin turning the raw talent into a long, healthy career.
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