2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: #18 Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

gabriel-ynoa

#18 RHP Gabriel Ynoa

Ht: 6’2″  Wt: 205  Level: Triple-A Las Vegas 51s and New York Mets

B/T: R/R  Age: 05/26/1993 (23)  Age Dif: -3.7 (w/ Triple-A Las Vegas)

Acquired: Signed by the New York Mets as a international free agent on Nov. 19, 2009.

Last Year: #14

2016 Statistics: 25 G, 154.1 IP, 12-5 W-L, 3.97 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, .285 BAA, 78/40 K/BB, 15 HR (Triple A)

10 G, 3 GS, 18.1 IP, 1-0 W/L, 6.38 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, .333 BAA, 17/7 K/BB, 0 HR (MLB)

If it feels like you’ve heard the name Gabriel Ynoa for years now, you’re not mistaken. Ynoa was signed by the New York Mets as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in November 2009. He burst onto the scene in his first professional season in 2010 with the Dominican Summer League Mets 2, leading the team in wins (5), innings pitched (72.1), and posting a sparkling 1.99 ERA, all while doing so at close to two years younger than the competition (-1.9).

While not a strikeout pitcher, averaging only 4.4 K/9 in his first professional season, what Ynoa set a precedent with was his pinpoint control, as he allowed only 1.0 BB/9 in the 14 games he pitched in ’10. In fact, Ynoa has kept up with that trend; for his minor league career, which accounts for 136 games (128 of them starts), Ynoa owns a 1.5 BB/9.

Ynoa sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but can ramp it up to 96 mph. Ynoa’s arsenal consists of a four-seam fastball, hard sinker, curve, slider, and changeup. Despite Ynoa’s low strikeout total, he limits the damage done against opponents by his low HR/9 and BB/9 numbers in the minor leagues.

Splitting time with the Kingsport Mets and GCL Mets in ’11 to auspicious results (3.21 ERA with 0.6 BB/9 over 56 IP), Ynoa took it to another level in ’12 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and 0.926 WHIP (12th in the NYPL). Ynoa also posted his best K/9 of his minor league career with the Cyclones at 7.5, while only allowing 10 walks in 76.2 innings pitched. The ’12 season also saw Ynoa get ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Mets organization by Baseball America. Ynoa would be featured in the top 16 by Baseball America from 2013-15, and for 2017’s Top 10 Mets prospects, would place 9th on the list.

Ynoa would get the chance to pitch a full-season in ’13 with the former Savannah Sand Gnats (now Columbia Fireflies), where he was the clear ace of the staff, posting a 15-4 record (best among the Sand Gnats and the South Atlantic League), 2.72 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, and 1.1 BB/9 (3rd best in the league). His best two months were in June and August, where Ynoa combined to go 6-0 with a 1.71 ERA in eight starts.

After his successful campaign in Savannah, which saw him take home the Sterling Pitcher of the Year award, Ynoa spent the ’14 season splitting time between the Advanced A St. Lucie Mets, and the Double A Binghamton Mets. He struggled in April while with St. Lucie, posting a 6.93 ERA in five starts with an uncharacteristic nine walks in 24.2 innings pitched. He improved in May to a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings of work. Ynoa was promoted to Binghamton in early July, but pitched to rather pedestrian results: 3-2 record with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP. Combined, Ynoa allowed 10.3 H/9 between St. Lucie and Binghamton, a career worst. His 1.311 WHIP was also a career worst for the right-hander.

The Mets had Ynoa repeat his season in Binghamton in ’15, before he was assigned to Triple A Las Vegas for the ’16 season. He survived the dry air of Vegas in 25 starts for the most part, posting a 12-5 record with a 3.97 ERA, however, his BB/9 increased to 2.3, a career worst. Ynoa continued to struggle against left-handed hitters though, where they teed off to an OPS of .873, compared to his .686 OPS against righties. The last time Ynoa held left handed hitters to an OPS under .600 was in ’13, and has only registered an OPS under .600 against LHH twice in his career.

The big club was in need of a fresh arm in August, after the Logan Verrett fifth starter experiment failed after he went seven starts between July 9 and August 12, allowing 29 earned runs and 18 walks. Ynoa made his major league debut on August 13 (the same day as his promotion) and was the winning pitcher of record as he pitched a clean 11th inning of a 3-2 extra-innings Mets win against the San Diego Padres. Ynoa would go on to make three spot starts for the Mets in September and October, posting a 3.18  ERA in 11.1 innings pitched, striking out 11 while walking four.

Mike M adds…

Ynoa averaged 94.3 MPH with his fastball in the big leagues and also threw his slider 28% of the time. With some more time with Dan Warthen to refine his slider and additional bullpen experience I believe he can be a viable option for the Mets as a reliever in 2017. The fastball played up in his relief appearances, and while they weren’t pretty (11.57 ERA), he had little to no experience as a reliever when the Mets (Terry Collins) thrust him into that role. Hopefully the Mets will use him in the pen this spring so he can become better adjusted to that role if that’s what he’s needed for.

The changeup is a pitch that has always been a positive for Ynoa, but he got away from using that during his big league stint and I believe that was part of his troubles during his first major league taste.

2017 Outlook:

Ynoa will likely be insurance for the Mets to begin the ’17 season. With the return of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, and Matz, not to mention Syndergaard, Lugo, and Gsellman, the Mets have a plethora of starting rotation options, which means it’s likely we see Wheeler and/or Lugo end up in the bullpen to begin the year. With that said, Ynoa should be pitching every fifth day for Las Vegas, where he’ll get consistent starts. Having a surplus of back end starting pitching is always a good thing, and there’s some that view Ynoa more favorably out of the pen, especially with the uptick in K/9 while with the Mets at the end of the year (8.3 K/9, a career high).

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS 

2. Dominic Smith, 1B 

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP 

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP 

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF 

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS 

10. Tomas Nido, C 

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF 

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

16. Luis Carpio, INF

17. Merandy Gonzalez, RHP

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About Mathew Brownstein 203 Articles
An avid Mets fan who has fond memories of running around Shea Stadium with my dad collecting autographs and enjoying many summer night games. My best friend introduced me to the Mets at a young age, and since then I've enjoyed rooting for the orange and blue through good times and bad. Attended Iona College for mass communications, and my goal is to be a baseball columnist/beat writer. It's an honor and pleasure to be a Senior Writer for MMO.