Ynoa needed just 63 pitches to shut out the Yankees through six innings on three hits, all singles. He did not allow a runner to third base nor did he walk a batter and struck out four.
Ynoa was working off a moving two-seam fastball at 90-91 mph all night. He touched 93 once, on one gun while another had him topping out at 92. He used a slider and changeup for strikes both right around 82-83 mph. His slider is a little slurvy. Towards the end of his outing, in the sixth, he threw lots of sliders, at one point, tripling up on the pitch to help produce a strikeout, a sequence most pitcher in the South Atlantic League do not have the confidence to try.
Cyclones' pitching coach Marc Valdes like the way Ynoa used his offerings. "For me, he mixed outstanding," Valdes said. "[Ynoa] and [C Nelfi] Zapata were on the same page. The slider, he threw about 15 and at least 10-12 changeups. Not to mention his fastball was located on both sides. He showed great movement on it. He got his ground balls and ... attacked the strike zone. He didn't have many two-ball counts."
Ynoa has put together outstanding control numbers in his brief minor league career. In two years between the Dominican Summer, the Gulf Coast and the Appalachian Leagues, he had walked just 0.84 batters per nine IP (12 BB/128.1 IP). This ability to throw strikes was a big reason the Cyclones handed him the ball on Opening Night in front of a big crowd of 6,718 at MCU Park.
"Our guy tomorrow (Luis Mateo) may have better stuff with velocity and movement and a sharper slider, but we felt we needed a guy who could come in the first game and throw strikes and command all of his pitches," Valdes explained, "He was the guy."
Mateo generally operated out of a high 3/4 arm slot, but dropped his arm on a few of his curveballs. Valdes is aware of the issue, "At times on his breaking ball... On his curveball, he'll slow down his arm slot a little bit and just flip it in there, just to get ahead."
The Cyclones scored the game's only runs in the bottom of the eighth. Nimmo and Evans drew one-out walks, and after Alex Sanchez reached on an error to load the bases, LF Stefan Sabol drew a walk to force home Nimmo with the game's first run. Sabol, who the Mets picked in the 17th round of this year's draft, was was a top prospect heading into his senior year of high school, wound up at Oregon and then after a broken hammate bone transferred to Orange Coast College. Sabol was 0-for-3 at the plate in addition to his RBI walk, but made a very nice running grab in leftfield in the fifth inning.
Evans finished 2-for-3 with a walk, and a run scored. In the fourth, he singled cleanly on an elevated offering into center for the first Cyclones' hit. In the sixth, he was credited with a hit on a grounder to third, that I had scored as a throwing error in my book. At short, he made a pair of nice reaction plays on tricky hops in the fourth and fifth innings.
Nimmo was 0-for-3 with a walk. He put the ball in play three times, grounding out to second base twice, and once to third.
RHP Tyler Vanderheiden, the Mets' 19th round pick this year out of Samford, worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the same. Vanderheiden, a true submariner was throwing his two-seamer 88-90. I don't think he threw a slider for a strike. That's something he's working on. Again, his pitching coach, Valdes, "He threw a nice little touch and feel yesterday because right now he's yanking some sliders and again, he didn't have his slider going, but he was so dominant with his fastball."'
Ynoa photograph courtesy Brooklyn Cyclones.