Amidst all the non-stop talk about Mets pitchers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom, along with budding prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, there are many bullets still left in the pitching pipeline to get excited about. One is 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Gabriel Ynoa.
MLB.com’s prospect analyst Jonathan Mayo wrote recently that Ynoa received strong consideration for his overall Top 100 prospect list, and should be watched as a "sleeper to consider for the future."
To me, the only way Ynoa doesn't work his way onto the Top 100 is if he pitches his way to the big leagues and graduates off the list.
There are other pitchers with better pure stuff than Ynoa, there's no question of that. He does have plenty of fastball, sitting in the low-90s and touching 95 mph, but that's not up where upper-echelon pitching prospects -- like organization-mate Noah Syndergaard -- live. Ynoa has an excellent changeup and a slider that's OK, but nothing like the exploding breaking stuff you might see from the guys at the top of the Top 100.
What Ynoa can do is throw strikes. He walked 1.5 per nine innings across two levels, reaching Double-A, in 2014. And that was a career high. It made Ynoa's career walk rate skyrocket all the way up to 1.2. He made 25 starts in 2014 and walked exactly that many batters, 25. In his Minor League career, Ynoa has issued 63 walks in 86 total games. Everyone realizes how insane that is, right?
Mayo isn't the only prospect analyst to be impressed with Ynoa this offseason. Baseball Prospectus writer Chris Mellen also thought highly enough of Ynoa to place him as one of his "Prospects on the Rise" in BP's Top 10 prospect rankings of the Mets' farm system
This isn’t a flashy profile like some of the arms in front of him, but the 21-year-old right-hander has progressed steadily into the upper minors. Ynoa features a low-90s fastball with some sink, along with a slider and changeup that both flash solid-average potential. The change is presently the better of the two offerings, showing strong arm-side fade at times and the ability to keep opposing hitters off balance. The question is whether this arm will be able to miss enough bats as opposed to running consistently into barrels, but he offers further projection at improving his overall pitchability. This arm can take a jump in status by proving he can effectively churn through lineups and throw better strikes against Double-A competition this season.
The Mets' front office is also well aware of what they have in their 2008 international signing. Paul DePodesta, the spoke glowingly about Ynoa after he was named the Mets' organizational pitcher of the year in 2013.’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting,
"When [Ynoa] first came over to the states he was a very good strike thrower and was [throwing] 88, 89 miles per hour. Two years later, he’s our pitcher of the year and he’s routinely 91-to-94 with the same command, and now his secondary stuff continues to get better."
"You don’t hear the term ‘projectable righthander’ very often, it’s usually associated with the left-handers, but I think Ynoa is exactly that. Each year, as he continues to fill out, the velocity continues to come. I think he’s going to continue to have success. When you’re that aggressive in the strike zone, with good stuff like he has, success is going to follow.""
It's safe to say that the Mets' pitching well is not about to go dry anytime soon.