Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tempering the Michael Ynoa backlash

      (Photo Courtesy of: Donn Parris) 

Having succumb to an onslaught of physical issues throughout his stay within the A's organization, Michael Ynoa has since devolved from practical demigod and international savior towards enigma and chastised entity within the Oakland system having undergone Tommy John surgery, had continual and prolonged absences due to elblow and shoulder discomfort and even a bout of Chicken Pox that prevented the 6'7" righty from attending his initial major league spring training camp. Even despite a lone option remaining for Ynoa prior to a dreaded waivers assignment following his 2013 offseason 40 man exemption, the Dominican bonus baby was retained within Stockton following a lackluster initial stretch through the California League after a breakthrough crusade through Beloit as his control disintegrated and a shoulder hindrance kept Ynoa sidelined for essentially the entirety of August. The 22 year old has since emerged once more during this campaign within an exclusive bullpen capacity to handcuff his cumulative innings amassed and present a more rapid route towards Oakland with plus results upon the mound during his first entire gauntlet residing in California with 62 punched out through his 42 2/3 IP for the Ports. Still, similar cries about Ynoa have been heard following the declaration of the $4.25M acquisition as the "Next Felix Hernandez" as a wiry 16 year old uncovered in 2008 as no performance seemingly shall satisfy disgruntled A's fans whom have roundly jeered the highly touted prospect for his inability to remain healthy and present control issues. Even MLB pundits have soured on the farmhand, witnessing him gradually slip through organizational prospect ranking interpretations as his teenage status has evaporated and Ynoa has had occasional difficulty taming full season offenses. Ynoa's backlash however has been completely unwarranted with those failing to recognize that the lanky right hander still remains at an approximate 1.2 years below the average prospect age for the California League, has incorporated a slider into his repetiore with plus potential and has additionally witnessed a velocity increase as of recently with Ynoa scraping triple digits. The premier principle of scouting minor league talent is that upside and ceiling are to be more highly regarded and revered, especially for an individual whose 6'7" frame is a classical example of pitchers with excessive height who often fail to harness control until the utmost latter stages of their prospect development. Having already demonstated his capability to generate extremist strikeout production versus California League bats, Michael Ynoa still remains firmly as a top five organizational farmhand for Oakland with easily the greatest amount of upside comparatively to any other potential Oakland challenger. 

The significant velocity increase for Ynoa has been attributable to his exclusive relief restriction with a prescribed 93-97 MPH fluctuation present through his starting duties previously. The massive presence upon the mound has since spiked dramatically to 95-99 MPH FB consistently with an inconsistent changeup and newly introduced slider to complement his arm slot that have seen plus results for Ynoa and furthermore could see him retained a late inning bullpen role even upon arriving within Oakland. Ynoa's secondaries have visibly been lagging behind an already major league quality fastball he's punctured through inferior Cal League offenses with at the moment, but both still present average to even plus projection in the case of his breaking offering. The largest critique one could note of would be Ynoa's erratic tendencies to locate the strike zone in certain instances and even more so his non-present command at the moment with numerous offerings, while technically within the strike zone, have not been quality strikes and thus been subjected to hard hit contact. Ynoa's delivery and mechanics occasionally, and admittedly, have dissolved at times which have nullified his outstanding repetiore and produced lackluster statistical results through the lens of encompassing single metrics such as ERA and FIP. This is rather customary for gigantic pitchers however, with the majority of individuals possessing excessive height failing to grasp control and, through correspondence, command until the latter stages of their development and even trickling forth into the major league tenures. An example would be Randy Johnson, considered one of baseball's greatest pitchers throughout the history of the sport boasting a 6'10" presence and one of the most superior fastballs ever witnessed. However, Johnson's dominance never surfaced until his age 29 season, leading the majors in walks distributed in 1990, 1991, and 1992 while having additionally permitted 96 BBs through his initial entire MLB campaign of 160 2/3 IP while rifling through an absurd 318 BBs allowed in his lone four full MiLB campaigns (399 IP). Johnson is an extraordinarily extreme example on a successful tangent of the spectrum however as Ynoa's career will most certainly not become as decorated, it rather just presents a comparison in the common trend of those with growth and how that affects them. Regardless, with gradual development, Ynoa shall apply reins to his delivery and ought to be able to successfully repeat it consistently, even if it requires another few campaigns. 

Ynoa's health has long since been associated with joking throughout the Oakland fanbase with his continual disabled list stints and constant physical pains that have severely stunted his ability to amass frames during his MiLB induction. For an individual who achieved a height of 6'7" prior to even having had been eligible for a driver's license in the United States and then furthermore requesting him to partake in excessive and unrelenting stresses upon one's body with an unnatural pitching motion, it would've been unbelievably miraculous had Ynoa avoided a significant surgery throughout the entirety of his career. Ynoa's genetic disposition additionally doesn't assist as he unfortunately doesn't possesses the mutant-like ligaments some within the sphere of baseball seem to. Pitchers with excessive height also and unfortunately succumb to a litany of injuries through their campaigns as Ynoa once more has had to sustain the drawbacks of pursuing a profession with demands to contort and apply ungodly amounts to stress to susceptible joints that were never intended to endure said means. This path for Ynoa has entirely to have been expected from his initial signing and the unrealistic expectation placed upon him and since continued to haunt the prospect. 

The rationale for Oakland's distribution of the loftiest bonus for an international amateur arm still remains relevant for Ynoa's present upside. With the potentially to possess two above average to slightly above average (Fastball and Slider) pitches and another major league average (changeup) offering, Ynoa's ceiling rivals some of the most outstanding pitching prospects throughout the entirety of the baseball landscape. Those who continuously relish within inpatient tendencies ought not to associate themselves with Ynoa any longer, as his development to acheieve his potential will be sluggish comparatively to others such as a Carlos Rodon or Archie Bradley with Ynoa most likely having to combat into some major league service time before he can finally unlock a portion of his ceiling. Even should Ynoa aspire to only a fragment of his potentiality, the 6'7" enigma still shall emerge as a valuable asset for Oakland; making his historic investment more than worthwhile. 

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