'Good starting point' for potential future star Ynoa

Newly acquired O's pitching prospect shows glimpses in spring debut

'Good starting point' for potential future star Ynoa

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the Orioles acquired Gabriel Ynoa just before the start of Spring Training, they hoped he would be a piece for the future, and perhaps even this season.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that Ynoa needed to work on his breaking ball to help the O's this year and next.

It doesn't look as if Ynoa, who allowed one run on three hits in two innings in Saturday's 6-2 loss, will start the season with the Orioles. He'll probably open at Triple-A Norfolk. The Tides' starting rotation could include not only Ynoa, a high-ranking prospect in the New York Mets' system who was traded to the Orioles for cash considerations, but others with big league experience.

Vidal Nuno, Logan Verrett, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright, all of whom have both started and relieved in the Majors, are competing for the final two spots in the Orioles' bullpen. Not all of them can make the team, and the ones who don't could end up joining Ynoa, now Baltimore's No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, at Norfolk.

Other possibilities for the Norfolk rotation are Joe Gunkel, who was 8-11 with a 4.08 ERA in 24 starts there a year ago, and Chris Lee, a highly thought of prospect, whose lat injury shut him down after eight games at Bowie.

Lee was 5-0 with a 2.98 ERA with the Baysox, but didn't pitch after late May.

The Orioles may need that depth not only this season, but in 2018 when starters Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley could all depart via free agency.

Ynoa had a rough first inning on Saturday, allowing three of the first four Pirates hitters to reach. Gregory Polanco's RBI single drove in Andrew McCutchen, who doubled. Two runners tried to steal on Ynoa. Adam Frazier, who led off with a single, was thrown out, while Polanco stole second.

"When the runners were on, I was just too slow going towards the plate, but that was it," Ynoa said through an interpreter. "I felt confident in myself, knowing that the runners were quick enough to attempt a stolen base."

One of the Orioles' points of emphasis this spring has been pitchers releasing the ball quickly to help hold runners on.

"We have been practicing that, but today for some reason, I felt a little bit nervous," Ynoa said. "In the second inning, I felt more under control."

Ynoa's second inning was much better. He retired three Pittsburgh hitters in order on nine pitches.

"In the first inning, I was going too quick towards home plate," Ynoa said. "In the second inning, I was more calm, under control, so I think that was the difference."

"Good starting point," said manager Buck Showalter. "He's got a good arm."

Worth noting
Christian Walker was claimed on waivers by Atlanta. The first baseman/outfielder had been designated for assignment when the Orioles added left-handed pitcher Richard Bleier on Wednesday.

Rich Dubroff is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.