Eyeing a spot in the rotation, Gabriel Ynoa is stating his case

Gabriel Ynoa (pronounced EE-know-uh) was acquired by the Orioles in February from the Mets for cash considerations. The 23-year-old right hander has spent the past seven seasons working his way through the minor leagues, posting decent numbers in the process.

In 136 appearances (128 starts) in the minors, Ynoa has pitched to a 3.36 ERA, in 795.1 innings. He had a record of 59-30, a BB/9 rate of 1.5 and a HR/9 rate of 0.7. Last season with the AAA Las Vegas 51’s, Ynoa pitched to a 12-5 record, with a 3.97 ERA in 154.1 innings.

Ynoa has turned some heads this exhibition season, mainly by pitching well. 

In four appearances (two starts) this spring, Ynoa has pitched 8.2 innings, and has allowed three earned runs (a 3.12 ERA). He has scoreless outings on March 1 vs. Boston, and March 11 vs. Pittsburgh. Both of those outings came in relief, as he pitched two innings a piece, allowing two hits in each outing. He struck out two on the 11th, and walked one. 

The blemish for Ynoa came during his last outing on St. Patrick’s Day in Bradenton against the Pirates. His second start of the spring didn’t replicate his previous two outings as he pitched just two and two thirds innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while walking one and striking out three. 

Manager Buck Showalter seems to believe that if Ynoa can command the ball a little better, he’ll be fine. Buck said, “Stuff-wise [Ynoa] is fine. Just needs a little better command of something soft. The arm is not an issue.” 

Ynoa throws a sinker, and a slider to compliment his fastball, which had an average velocity of 93.3 MPH last year according to The Baseball Cube. He is labeled as a ground ball pitcher and that would work out perfectly for him pitching at Camden Yards every fifth day. In an article published by The Baltimore Sun, Eduardo A. Encina had asked Ynoa how he felt his progress was coming along this spring. Ynoa said, “I feel that I am definitely making improvements every day, working hard, trying to earn a spot in the rotation.”

When Ynoa is scheduled to pitch again is unknown, but the focus should remain on his command, and his ability to throw first-pitch strikes, as well as get guys out without throwing alot of pitches. If he can keep the ball down, and pound the strike zone, he may be on a plane to Baltimore in a few weeks. 

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