Red Sox Prospect: Left-handed relief pitcher Luis Ysla
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox have a prospect who may have the potential to provide solid lefty relief in the future. Luis Ysla just may have Boston in his future.
Spring training games are like watching one of those carnival games where you pick out a plastic duck for a prize. There are a hundred ducks and in spring training there are a hundred players or more. The players often come onto the big field – Jet Blue Park, in the case of Boston Red Sox players – for an inning on two. Maybe just one game and maybe more.
Watching the games and reading the box scores, one player seemed to be getting quite a workout – one Luis Ysla. Was this just the fact of coincidence?
So I check the spring training statistics and Ysla appeared in seven games and 6.1 innings pitched. Ysla was not very tidy in his games with six walks issued – that seems to be a career trend with a 3.7 BB/9 in four minor league seasons. The redemption factor is a 9.5 K/9.
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Ysla is a soon to be a 25-year-old lefty that Boston picked up in Dave Dombrowski’s first trade as president of baseball operations. That transaction sent Alejandro De Aza to the Giants and sent the Venezuelan Ysla to the East Coast. The bulk of his Red Sox service has been with Portland in the Eastern League where Ysla worked 39 games out of the Sea Dogs bullpen.
The Red Sox advanced Ysla for a late season pitching rubber toe dip with Pawtucket, where he will hopefully return during this season. The Red Sox also added Ysla to the 40-man roster in November so there is some determination that Luis is just not pitching fodder.
"“Then all of a sudden you bring them in as an invitee or in his case on the roster, and you start to see that there’s expectations now all of a sudden. And there’s seemingly a different mindset here. His stuff hasn’t changed. He’d come over last year in games and finish out games in the ninth inning and walk through two or three hitters. I think right now he’s trying to be a little bit too fine.” – John Farrell via Mass Live."
I noticed that Ysla is listed at 6’ 1” and 185 pounds on various websites and that must be a rather sympathetic understatement of his size. Ysla – at least when I saw him – appeared far heavier – maybe not “El Guapo” size like former Red Sox pitcher Rich Garces, but certainly no baseball version of former fashion model Twiggy.
So why do the Red Sox have this sudden fondness for Ysla?
The most obvious reason is he is a left-hander. That gets bonus points in the world of baseball since there is embedded scouting fondness for portsiders. The second reason is that he tosses some rather legitimate heat – the high nineties is certainly a consistent calling card. A final reason happens to go back to his days with the Giants and the South Atlantic League in 2014.
"Ysla throws harder than any of the Red Sox’ lefty bullpen prospects. He operates at 93-96 mph and tops out at 98 with his fastball, which has some natural cutting action. His long-term success depends on his ability to come up with a consistent second pitch, because his slider and changeup lack consistency and aren’t more than average pitches at this point. – MLB Prospect Watch"
After that season Ysla was considered to have the best change up in that league by Baseball America. Yes – it was the bushes, but something not to be lightly dismissed. Ysla also uses a slider so there is the potential to have three pitches available providing the control improves.
The Red Sox may have some significant plans for Ysla based on needs. The lefty situation may not be porous, but it is of concern. I certainly do not feel any degree of scintillating comfort when Robbie Ross, Fernando Abad, and Robby Scott hustle out with either a gas can or a fire extinguisher.
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Pawtucket offers little potential with Roenis Elias, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens, who all appear to be limited to starting duties. The same applies to Drew Pomeranz whose future in Boston may abruptly end with a flurry of home runs being issued. Simply stated – any port in a storm and that may be the good ship Ysla providing he does the job in Portland and later Pawtucket.