The A’s have had a long line of great young pitchers that have developed in their minor league system over the years. From the Big 3 of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito to the newly installed Ace of the staff Sonny Gray the list goes on. The A’s have “gone all in” for 2014 trading away prospects for major league players and signing free agents, an unusual concept in Oakland. With that being said, the minor league system is beginning to thin a little bit leading to questions on who the next wave of A’s players will be. Certainly, who will be the next Ace for the A’s is a major question. One pitcher who might just be that guy is Michael Ynoa.
Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; World pitcher Michael Ynoa throws a pitch during the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Ynoa was signed as an amateur Free Agent in July of 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. The tall pitcher has never pitched for the A’s. In fact Ynoa has never pitched above Single A Stockton. A rash of elbow problems has limited the talented a potentially Ace-caliber pitcher that Ynoa can be. Without the injuries there is no telling where Ynoa’s career might be at this stage of his career. Could he have been the Ace of a staff that at one point included Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez?
Ynoa has great stuff. He has an explosive fastball that is only further helped by his tall 6’7” frame. He has worked on adding a cutter to go along with his fastball, changeup, and breaking pitches. If his changeup and cutter continue to develop Ynoa could be one of the best young pitchers in the game. Even though he has not reached the big leagues since being signed in 2008 Ynoa is still relatively young at the age of 22 considering he was signed when he was only 17.
Ynoa’s injury history unfortunately follows the same path that Brett Anderson’s did (although Anderson reached the Major Leagues). If the injuries can be left in the past Ynoa’s potential knows no boundaries. If he starts the year at Double-A Midland and is successful enough he could in theory finish the season at Triple-A Sacramento. That could mean an A’s 2015 rotation consisting of Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Michael Ynoa, Scott Kazmir, and of A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and a host of others waiting in the wings at Triple-A Sacramento. It all depends on Ynoa’s health and durability. If he can stay healthy the A’s just might have their next Ace.