The signing period for international free agents began yesterday. Of course, the big story was the Yankees, who, when it’s all said and done, could spend upwards of $30 million once they incur the one hundred percent tax for steamrolling past the value of their bonus pool. The Twins didn’t spend nearly as much yesterday, but they still were able to sign one of the best arms available in Huascar Ynoa for a relatively small $800 k. I wrote a little bit about the Dominican right hander in my international prospect preview, but I think his signing warrants a deeper look.
The most important thing to remember, as it is with nearly all of these signings, is that Ynoa is extremely young. He just turned 16 in May, which means, unless he’s Jorge Polanco, he’s still most likely six or seven years from seeing a lick of big league action, and that’s being optimistic. The reality with these kinds of signings is that most flare out without ever reaching the Major Leagues.
Keeping that in mind, Ynoa’s stuff is undeniably special. He throws a fastball that typically sits in the upper 80’s to the lower 90’s, although, as many have noted, his heater recently touched 94 mph. It has quite a bit of tail that runs in on the hands of righties. He has several secondary offerings. His changeup is the best of these. It offers a significant drop in velocity with some downward break. The best part is that his arm motion doesn’t seem to slow down when he throws the offspeed stuff. He also has a curveball and a splitter in his repertoire. His curveball has pretty good vertical and sideways bend, and it seems to arrive at the plate rather quickly. I haven’t seen video of his splitter, at least knowingly, which either says something about me or his splitter.
Right now, command is the main issue. Some scouts believe Ynoa is the best pitching talent of this year’s international free agent class. However, he’s too inconsistent to get unanimously positive scouting reports. Part of his inconsistency likely stems from the fact that he isn’t done growing. Right now, Ynoa is 6′ 2″ and 190 lbs. His older brother Michael Ynoa, a pitcher in the A’s system, stands 6′ 7″ tall. Going forward, Huascar will probably have to figure out how to keep his mechanics in pace with his body’s growth. In any case, you should expect to see some command issues in a 16 year old kid who can throw a baseball 94 mph.
Ynoa will be assigned to the Twins’ Dominican Summer League Affiliate. Here is a video produced by Baseball America that shows him pitching in the International Prospect Leauge.
Not bad for a kid who could be in VFW ball.