The Orioles made a move today to improve their pitching depth while also eliminating a catcher from the 40-man roster. Depth added and subtracted.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette acquired 23-year-old right-hander Gabriel Ynoa from the Mets for cash considerations. Catcher Francisco Pena was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Ynoa (pronounced ya-know-ah) is 59-30 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 136 minor league games, including 128 starts. He appeared in 10 games (three starts) with the Mets last season and allowed 13 runs and 26 hits in 18 1/3 innings. He walked seven batters and struck out 17.
Ynoa had a 3.18 ERA in his three starts, allowing four runs and striking out 11 in 11 1/3.
The Mets signed Ynoa as a non-drafted minor league free agent in 2009. He went 12-5 with a 3.97 ERA last summer in 25 starts with Triple-A Las Vegas, ranking third in the Pacific Coast League with 154 1/3 innings pitched.
In seven minor league seasons, Ynoa is averaging 1.5 walks, 5.6 strikeouts and 0.7 home runs per nine innings.
The Orioles are expected to start Ynoa at Triple-A Norfolk.
“He’s young, he’s strong, he’s durable,” Duquette said. “The kid won 13 games last year. Pitching in Las Vegas, that’s a tough ballpark to pitch in, but he was one of the top pitchers in the Pacific Coast League. He has a good sinker, a four-seam fastball that reaches 95 mph and a good changeup.
“Our scouts think he’ll be able to develop into a big league pitcher with a little more consistent breaking ball. He’s got pretty good credentials for a major league starting pitcher.”
The Orioles sought another starting option after trading Yovani Gallardo to the Mariners for outfielder Seth Smith.
“He gives us some depth. He should be able to help out the major league team,” Duquette said.
“This kid’s got a chance to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He’s got a lot of good qualities. He has talent and strength and he’s durable. Our scouts like him. We’ll see how he does with a little bit more experience.”
Pena, 27, figured to compete with Caleb Joseph for the backup job, but he’ll have to clear waivers. He’s out of options.
The camp roster currently includes Joseph, Welington Castillo, top prospect Chance Sisco, Audry Perez and Yermin Mercedes. Austin Wynns is expected to come over from the minor league camp after demonstrating that he’s fully recovered from an ankle injury.
Pena, the son of former major league catcher and current Yankees coach Tony Pena, was 8-for-40 with a home run and three RBIs in 14 games with the Orioles last season.
“We have some catching depth throughout the organization and Pena is out of options,” Duquette said. “We have Audry Perez, we have Chance Sisco, we have Austin Wynns, we have Yermin Mercedes, Caleb Joseph and Castillo. We have a little bit more depth at the catcher position.”
Castillo will leave camp to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, a development that Duquette conceded was “a concern.” However, Duquette sounded confident that the club would be fine.
The Orioles and Mets completed their second trade of the offseason. Duquette also acquired pitcher Logan Verrett on Nov. 30 for cash considerations.