A Glimpse into the Future: Rafael Ynoa
For those of you who have been following the Arizona Fall League, today was the championship game between the Peoria Javelinas and the Salt River Rafters in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Javelinas came out victorious with a score of 4-3 over Salt River. There was an official protest over a contested play in the bottom of the seventh inning, but after a delay the official confirmation upheld the 4-3 score. Brian Goodwin was called out at home after he tagged up on a fly ball by shortstop Chris Owings. The home plate umpire at first signaled safe, but then after the Javelinas appealed to third, he was called out for tagging up too early. The tying run would not count. The Javelinas protested over the multiple calls, but the protest would ultimately be denied.
Dodger prospect Rafael Ynoa
Even though the Mesa Solar Sox, the team which included Dodger prospects, finished with the worst record out of all six AFL teams, there was one Dodger prospect which stood out. Rafael Ynoa, the 25-year old infielder had a great Fall League season. The switch-hitting second baseman finished with a .330/.374/.515 line in his 97 at bats for the Mesa Solar Sox. He compiled 32 hits including 4 doubles, 4 triples, and 2 homeruns. He had 20 RBIs and 7 stolen bases.
Last season, the 6’0″ 180 pound Dominican finished the 2012 season with a .278 batting average with the AA-Chattanooga Lookouts. He played in 113 games, and he stole 23 bases. He struck out 70 times while walking 58 times.
Ynoa was originally signed by the Dodgers on July 8, 2005 as a non-drafted free agent. He spent four years in Rookie Level ball including two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He then played in 14 games with the Inland Empire 66ers in 2009. By 2010, he played in 124 games with the Great Lakes Loons (Single-A) which allowed him to have the most at bats of his professional career up to that point with 441. He finished with a respectable .286 batting average, and collected 126 hits, 9 homeruns, and 40 stolen bases.
He played with the Advanced-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2011. He put up similar numbers to the year prior, and he finished with a .275 batting average over 126 games played. He had a comparable amount of hits (128), but he only stole 13 bases while hitting 5 homeruns in the tougher California League.
Last season in Chattanooga, he split time between shortstop and second base. In 2010 with the Loons, he mostly played at second. Defensively he is average to good, and he supposedly has a solid arm.
Ynoa could be susceptible to the Rule 5 Draft, and the switch-hitting infielder could surely be valuable to a team as a backup infielder. The Dodgers would have to place him on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Draft. He looks to be vying for a spot in Albuquerque next season, but he will have to compete in order to break into an already crowded infield.
The Dodgers should probably keep Ynoa, since having a backup second baseman and or shortstop is a necessity. Luis Cruz and Dee Gordon can play shortstop, but second base depth is much thinner. After playing four years at the Rookie level, Rafael Ynoa may be on an upwards path which just may eventually allow him to see some time in the Majors in the future.