Updated: Feb 8, 2018
In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
Prospect #26, OF Wadye Ynfante
Age To Start The 2018 Season: 20
Signed Out Of The Dominican Republic In 2014
2017 wRC+: 133
Kyle Reis (Prospect #26 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
What I like most about Wadye Ynfante is the promise that he showed during the 2017 season. So very much do I love the power/speed combo that Ynfante showed this past season. Eleven stolen bases, seven home runs, and eleven doubles in 167 AB is delightful. The eleven stolen bases are a nice little cherry on top, especially when he was only caught stealing three times. That's a 78.5% success rate. That'll do.
You should be asking yourself the pronunciation of this young man's name. With the help of a friend from Twitter, Alex Carrión Velo (follow Alex on Twitter), it should sound something like "Waa-dee-yah Eenfanteh"
From a mechanics standpoint, I really like how Wadye looks when he is dialed in and in control at the plate. I think it looks absolutely beautiful, as a matter of fact. Take a look:
Now, you will see some people express concern about his 27% K rate. I will not be one of those people. It's going to sound crazy, but I actually like that this 19 year old added power substantially on to what he had shown in the past and I don't care that it came at the cost of more strikeouts. You shouldn't either. I believe in learning lessons from former prospects, and one of the many things that the tenure of Magneuris Sierra taught us it's that you need to be able to drive the ball in order to make a difference. I'm willing to bet that we see something around the 22-23% area during 2018. That's still a little high, but it's worth it if he continues to make slugging gains. Also, his walk rate was at 9% last season which helps to stomp out some of the red flags that a high strikeout percentage might otherwise cause. I can't say this loud enough: he's only 20. He's still learning. At this point, slug is better than soft contact.
I feel weird writing this, but I like how his team struggled after his season ended on August 14 after sliding into 2nd with an apparent leg/ankle injury. I hate to see the injury and I hate that the Johnson City Cardinals struggled after he got hurt. But the fact that ended the season with a sub-.500 record even though they were 4 games over .500 when his season ended shows you how valuable he was to the club. I'm willing to bet that this kid is a lineup-cog: The kind of player that you build a lineup around. I'm also willing to best that if you were given a candid moment with a the coaching staff that they'd tell you his absence was part of the reason for the end of season fall off.
This is a very talented young man and he is the sleeper hitting prospect in the organization. You're going to see his name popping up every soon. Get to know it!
What I don't like about Ynfante is that his is still so far away from the majors. I just haven't seen enough of him with my own eyes to make any type of evaluation about that I'd feel comfortable standing behind. That's not a knock on him, of course, but it's something that makes it hard for me to stand by any evaluation.
With the little bit of video that I have seen, like with nearly every teen-aged hitting prospect, you see his swing get wild. You saw how talented this kid can be at the plate when he's in total control. The gif below will show you how out of control it can get. The results of the gif are still a home run, but everything else is a mess. Take a look:
That's the kind of wild swing that just won't survive as it progresses through the minors. I do love the HR, though!
A big area of concern for me is how this young man returns/recovers from the injury that ended his season. A leg/ankle injury isn't easy to come back from. A similar injury basically ended the career of Allen Craig. Until he's in a lineup and raking again I'm going to be worried about it's lingering effects on this talented kid. I believe that he'll be fine but you just never know.
A weird thing that I don't like about the season that Ynfante had was how and when his home runs came. Seven home runs is a nice total in 43 games and 187 plate appearances, but six of those seven home runs came over a 12 game period in the middle of the Johnson City season. That means that Ynfante only hit 1 HR in the 31 games around that 12 game set. I love that he raked over those 12 games but I hate that it was the only time that he flashed power. Building off of that, Wadye's power all but evaporated in August. Prior to the injury - over 10 games and 46 PA - he only hit 4 extra base hits. It wasn't all bad news in August, however. He did slash 375/457/525 over that time while lowering his strike out rate.
This is a young player that is still putting it all together. He's still figuring it out. His August helps prove that. Watch out when he does because it'll be a sight to see!
If I'm comparing Ynfante to anyone it's... No one, actually. This kid is so far away from the majors that it just isn't fair to make a comp yet. His time in the DSL tells us he's one player and his time in 2017 tells us he's another. Let's wait to see how 2018 plays out. At that point I'll feel more comfortable about giving a comp. Know this: Wadye has a very high ceiling and he's trending in the right direction.
As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily.
Thanks For Reading!
Get caught up on what you might have missed: