Michael Ynoa signed with the Oakland Athletics for 4.25 million dollars when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has hardly pitched. Before this year, he threw 9 innings in 2010 for Oakland’s Arizona club. Arm injuries prevented him from throwing anymore and kept him from pitching in 2011. In 2012, he made his comeback starting by throwing 10 innings in 6 outings in the Arizona League. He wasn’t good, but the reports were somewhat promising and he was promoted to Vermont (level A-). He has pitched in 5 games for them so far, including his MiLB.TV (a quick unpaid and unsolicited endorsement: the amount of baseball you are able to watch with just a 40 dollar subscription is just amazing) debut earlier this week, which I was able to watch.
The first thing you notice about Ynoa is his size. Listed at 6-7 210, he is a very large man. Ynoa has really struggled since being promoted to Vermont. It is hard to see why with his stuff. He was sitting at 91 MPH according to the stadium radar gun most of the night but hitters were swinging way late the majority of the time. The radar gun was probably a little slow, as I have seen reports of him throwing 92-95 MPH (occasionally hitting 96-97 MPH, in other outings he has been at just 89-91 MPH, it may have just been one of those nights for Ynoa).
He also has a really good breaking pitch that he can throw in the dirt for strikeouts. He made some hitters take some fantastically ugly swings. It very rarely even made it to the plate, which spoke both of the competition and the great break he has on it. Ynoa threw it quite a bit, and wasn’t just relying on his fastball. I was definitely surprised to see so many curveballs on an arm that has basically been out of work since 2010. You have to give him so credit though, he wasn’t afraid to throw it to start the count. With just those two pitches alone, he can be an effective reliever one would think.
Overall, he was not throwing a lot of strikes, relying mainly on hitters chasing, which some hitters at his level did. At times, he seriously had no idea where the ball was going. I don’t think I have ever seen a pitcher have such confidence in a pitch that he had no control over (his curveball). I am also not sure if that is a compliment or not.
Perhaps more than anything, just being healthy has to be the goal for Ynoa and the Athletics. He obviously has some stuff, and the command has a chance of improving with more practice and outings. The important thing is to make sure he is able to keep going out there and having more outings. The really interesting thing is that he will be Rule 5 eligible at the end of the year if the A’s don’t protect him. I don’t think he is ready for the big leagues (he would have to stay in the big leagues all year if selected in the Rule 5 draft), but he has enough talent that I would seriously consider putting him on the 40 man roster if I were the Athletics.
Daniel Robertson was a 1st round pick by the Athletics (34th overall) in the 2012 draft. He started in Arizona and hit .297/.405/.554 in 29 games. He was then promoted to Vermont, where he has just a .633 OPS in 12 games.
In watching him, you can see the bat speed. Robertson saw a lot of breaking balls in the dirt but was able to lay off some of them. He was mainly pitched low and it lead to grounders. Perhaps because he was pitched so carefully, he did not look very good at the plate. I clearly caught him on a bad night, as I have seen reports on some real power displays put on by Robertson. As far as other tools, he does not have real overwhelming speed. Defensively, he plays both shortstop and 3rd. He has quite a bit of range and good looking arm. There isn’t any reason that to think that he cannot stick at 3rd base.