This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have number 26, Wadye Ynfante.
26. OF Wadye Ynfante
Entering age-20 season
Signed on February 10, 2014
2017 wRC+: 133
What I Like
Athleticism. As you’ll see in the GIF below, Ynfante has an extremely athletic, fast-twitch swing.
I also love the fact that Ynfante was over a year younger than the average player in the Appy League last year. Despite it being his first season north of Florida, the 18-year-old produced. In 187 plate appearances, Ynfante slashed .299/.374/.491. He did extremely well when he put the ball in play (.394 BABIP), indicating that when he made contact, it was hard contact.
It’s also nice to see some stolen-base success, as Ynfante was 11/14 in stolen base attempts. As athletic as he is, Eric Longenhagen suggests there isn’t much more raw power to tap into. Eleven homers in 43 games is a pretty impressive total, however.
What I Don’t Like
First and foremost, Ynfante struck out in 27.3% of plate appearances. That is simply too many strikeouts at such a low-level affiliate. The good news is Ynfante mixes in a fair amount of walks (9.1 BB%), so his K/BB ratio isn’t quite in the Randal Grichuk/Tyler O’Neill territory.
I’m also a little curious as to why Ynfante didn’t hit any triples. It’s probably a stupid thing to be worried about, but the fact that such a fast, athletic center fielder with good power had zero triples is surprising. And, the fact that his HR/FB ratio went from 2.6% in 2016 to 18.9% and he had a .394 BABIP, there could be serious regression coming for Ynfante.
At 19-years-old, starting him in Peoria is a risky thing to do. On the other hand, he was so successful last year that making him (and we who follow prospects) wait until June to get a glimpse of Ynfante is a hard decision to make. There is precedent for the Cardinals rushing extremely young, latin prospects to Peoria too fast (see: Sierra, Magneuris). Hot and humid days in Johnson City and Palm Beach in midsummer are replaced with frigid April nights in Illinois. When taking into account the chance that Ynfante might have been very lucky in 2017, I don’t think there’s any way a Peoria assignment is justified to begin the season, no matter how impatient I am to see if his breakout 2017 was real.
No matter where (or when) Ynfante starts this season, I can’t wait to see what he can do against better competition. He has a combination of speed and power at a premium defensive position that could make him a valuable player even if he doesn’t hit his offensive ceiling. He’s still so far away from the big leagues, though, it’s unfair to make any ridiculous comparisons or put any expectations on him. It’s definitely possible, however, that by this time next year, Ynfante is pushing the top half of this prospect lists in much the same way Randy Arozarena is this year.
Thanks for reading!