Welcome to another installment of Fifty Prospects In Fifty Days! Today we’ll be taking a look at a couple of pitchers that came into the Braves organization from American League systems as we slip into the top 40 prospects on the farm.
36. Tyler Pike, LHP
Age: 24 | Throws: L
3.43 ERA | 3.22 FIP | 27 G, 27 GS | 144.1 IP | 5.61 BB/9 | 9.60 K/9
Current Assignment: Class AA Mississippi
Acquired: Trade w/Seattle Mariners – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking : 28
History: Pike was a third round pick of the Mariners in the 2012 draft and was traded to Atlanta in the same trade that brought Alex Jackson for pitchers Rob Whalen and Max Povse. Pike had bounced between high-A and AA for Seattle in each off the previous three seasons, albeit in the extremely hitter-friendly California League for the high-A parts. Pike was assigned to high-A Florida by the Braves on Opening Day and dominated the level in 12 starts, pitching to a 2.20 ERA/2.94 FIP. Pike was promoted to Mississippi in mid-June but found AA to be more difficult. Pike pitched to a 4.58 ERA/3.98 FIP in 15 starts for Mississippi, most notably finding strikes harder to come by as his walks-per-nine rocketed up to an alarming 7.59.
Pitching: Pike is a classic lefty with a low-90s fastball, a big loopy curveball, and an above average change-up that can bump up to plus when he’s got good feel for it and can get movement. Years of playing in the California League taught Pike to stay away from the strike zone to the point that even now he occasionally has almost no control. His stuff is good enough to succeed in and around the strikezone, and he’ll go as far as he can rediscover that control. Pike’s delivery is easy and fluid, but he can get out of rhythm and his landing spot can fluctuate, especially from the stretch. This contributes to his control issues.
What’s Next: Pike will likely remain at Mississippi to start next season, but if spots open up and he has a good spring they could challenge him with a AAA assignment. Pike also will be eligible for the Rule V draft; considering the other more high-ceiling players that will need to be protected, and the fact that Pike was exposed last season by the Mariners and not selected, I suspect the Braves will gamble that Pike’s walk rate will keep other teams from considering him for mandatory major league rostering.
35. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
Age: 19 | Throws: R
5.26 ERA | 4.38 FIP | 13 G, 13 GS | 51.1 IP | 5.08 BB/9 | 8.77 K/9
Current Assignment: Rookie League – Danville
Acquired: Trade w/Minnesota Twins – 2017
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking : NA
History: Ynoa was signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 by the Twins and is the younger brother of Chicago White Sox reliever Michael Ynoa. Ynoa made step-by-step progression through the Twins rookie league clubs in the DSL, GCL, and Appalachian League over the prior three seasons before a midseason trade with Atlanta that saw Jaime Garcia briefly pitch for the Twins sent him to Danville.
Ynoa’s 2017 season was evenly split between the Twins’ Elizabethon club and the Braves’ Danville affiliate, both in the Appalachian League, pitching exactly 25.2 innings for each. Ynoa also posted an identical 5.26 ERA for both franchises, so at least he’s consistent.
Pitching: Ynoa is listed as 6′-3″ and 175 pounds, but that’s likely his weight around his pro debut; he looks more likely around 210. He has a 3/4s delivery that the Braves have tried to raise since he’s come over in order to get more depth on his change-up. That pitch in particular has been a point of emphasis, and he threw it heavily over his last start where he cruised through five shutout innings. His fastball sits in the low ’90s, but he can push it to 96-97 when needed. He also has a curveball that flashes plus when he’s able to stay on top of it; when he doesn’t it tends to flatten and move more like a slider. He needs to work on maintaining a consistent follow-through and arm angle; when he let’s either slip he can lose his control, command, or both.
What’s Next: Ynoa has a couple of paths open to him, and he could end following the path of his brother into relief pitching, but for now Ynoa has shown the repertoire and stamina to remain in the rotation; in fact he often seems to get stronger as the game progresses, though neither the Twins nor the Braves would allow an 18 year old pitcher to go more than 80 pitches in an outing. Look for Ynoa in Rome to start the 2018 season, likely in the starting rotation.
OFR Top 50 Prospects:
35. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
36. Tyler Pike, LHP
37. Anfernee Seymour, OF
38. Thomas Burrows, LHP
39. Matt Withrow, RHP
40. Jeremy Walker, RHP
41. Tyler Neslony, OF
42. Ray-Patrick Didder, OF
43. Leudys Baez, OF
44. Jonathan Morales, C
45. Derian Cruz, 2B
46. Jefrey Ramos, OF
47. Drew Harrington, LHP
48. Wes Parsons, RHP
49. Caleb Dirks, RHP
50. Alan Rangel, RHP
Dedicated to Ms. Lynne Thornton (1935-2017).
Chop on, Ms. Lynne.