Despite spending six years in the minors at or below the High-A level, Michael Ynoa climbed the ladder quickly during his age-24 season. He began the season with Double-A Birmingham, but was sent to Triple-A Charlotte after four scoreless innings in his first dose of the level. The tall right-hander struggled with control (like he had in the past), but his stellar strikeout abilities earned him a callup to the south side in June. His first couple months in the big leagues definitely posed some problems, as his 4.76 ERA and 1.94 WHIP in early August portray, although he settled down after that by allowing just four earned runs over his final 18.2 innings pitched of the season while continuing to strike out roughly a batter per inning. The young reliever even managed to walk batters at a 3.9 BB/9 pace, one of the better rates of his career. Ynoa definitely needs to command his arsenal better, but his swing-and-miss stuff could help him carve out a larger role in the White Sox's bullpen in 2017.
Ynoa earned a bullpen spot on the White Sox's Opening Day roster, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. Anthony Swarzak, Dylan Covey and Ynoa were the final three pitchers added to the Opening Day roster Saturday, but Swarzak and Covey are also candidates to temporarily fill a spot in the rotation with Carlos Rodon nursing a biceps injury. Ynoa has a solid fastball that sits in the mid-90s and he was impressive in his stint with the White Sox last season, notching a 3.00 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 30.0 innings.
Ynoa appears to have won an Opening Day roster spot after the White Sox optioned Zack Burdi to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports. Ynoa had a rough spring, surrendering nine earned runs in 15.2 innings, but his solid showing last season with the White Sox probably convinced the team to keep him around. The 25-year-old offers some intriguing strikeout potential thanks to his mid-90s fastball, but he'll have to do a better job with his control and command in order to work his way into a high-leverage role out of the bullpen.
Ynoa allowed two runs on two hits over 1.1 innings in Saturday's game against the Dodgers. Ynoa entered camp looking for a middle-relief spot, but has not fared well this spring. The right-hander has allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks over 10.2 innings. While command in the form of walks have been his bane, Ynoa has given up three home runs this spring. The fact that he was pitching in the seventh and eighth inning of a spring-training game, facing the Dodgers' minor leaguers, is all the evidence we need to see that Ynoa will open the year a Triple-A Charlotte.
Ynoa finished up the Dominican Winter League with a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings over 13 games for Aguilas Cibaenas. He struck out eight, walked seven and allowed seven hits. Ynoa had his first taste of the majors last season and after a middling first two months, he locked down in September, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks while striking out 12 over his final 11.1 innings. The major difference between his summer results and September was command. When he struggled, the right-handed Ynoa walked 14 batters in 18.2 innings. Fortunately, Ynoa was pitching in the low-stress environment of a non-playoff contender and was able to work through his issues. Judging from his winter-ball results, command may be an on-going issue for the 6-foot-7 Ynoa, who will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training.
Ynoa gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four over 4.1 innings in July. Manager Robin Ventura doesn't seem to have Ynoa on speed dial, with the rookie only appearing twice in the last 19 games, despite allowing runs in just two of his nine appearances this season. Although, it may have to do with the adventure that comes with his 1.94 WHIP over those 10.1 innings.
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