|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Ynoa's gem leads Cyclones past Yanks06/18/2012 11:26 PM ET
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
From the ballad by Frank Sinatra to the rap lyrics of Jay-Z, the New York City saying goes, "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." Gabriel Ynoa might make it to Flushing someday, but for now he'll have to settle for thriving on Coney Island.
The 19-year-old Mets prospect scattered three hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter over six innings to help Brooklyn survive a 2-0 pitchers duel with cross-harbor rival Staten Island in the squads' New York-Penn League season opener at MCU Park.
All three hits allowed by Ynoa were singles, and only one of those Yankees runners -- Exicardo Cayones with a steal of second -- reached scoring position while he was on the mound. Following Matt Snyder's base hit in the fourth, the Dominican Republic native retired seven consecutive batters to finish his outing after six innings and 63 pitches (46 for strikes).
After his first start in a Cyclones uniform, the right-hander was already making a believer out of his coaching staff.
"He had all three pitches working for him," said pitching coach Marc Valdes. "He was on with his location with pretty much everything and consistent with delivery, which is what we always look for. The fastball had a tail to it that was going away from righties, and they seemed to really struggle with it. But he came inside with it too."
The offspeed pitches, however, seemed to be the most impressive.
"His changeup was the best it's been since I started watching him in extended spring training," Valdes said. "He threw 12 of 13 for strikes, which is amazing. His slider, the pitch was as sharp as it's been too. He didn't slow anything down with his delivery on any of his pitches, and that makes it tough on guys to hit."
Signed by the Mets as a Minor League free agent in 2009, Ynoa went 2-3 with a 3.21 ERA over 12 appearances (seven starts) between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets and Kingsport in 2011. He struck out 27 over 56 innings, only issuing four walks over that time.
That kind of accuracy gave the Cyclones enough confidence that the 6-foot-2 hurler could handle Opening Day duties.
"It's not a surprise," Valdes said. "We expected five or six innings out of him, maybe give up a run or two. We wanted him to come in, throw strikes and get us off to a hot start to the year. That's why we chose him to pitch here first. He was definitely on his game."
It's tough to forecast any teenage pitching prospect, but Valdes said he could certainly see a high potential ceiling for Ynoa in the future.
"Based on one game, I think he can make it to the Major Leagues," he joked. "But he's a young guy. We're still going to see how good he can be as we continue along this season. I do think he has the potential to be a back-end starter, a 4 or 5 type of guy. He's got a lot of growing to do, but tonight was a good time to start."
The Yankees' Taylor Morton allowed four hits and one walk and struck out two over six shutout innings to equal Ynoa's scoreless streak step-by-step on the night.
The Cyclones broke the 0-0 deadlock in the eighth inning when Alexander Sanchez singled with the bases loaded and Stefan Sabol followed that up with an RBI hit off Staten Island reliever James Pazos.