The Braves promoted right-hander Huascar Ynoa to their bullpen Saturday, optioning Dan Winkler to Triple-A Gwinnett to open room.
Ynoa, who was on the 40-man roster, will make his major-league debut whenever he appears. The Braves acquired Ynoa two summers ago in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to Minnesota.
“They gave me the call last night, and it was a great moment,” Ynoa said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “I’m really just focusing on helping the bullpen in any way I can.”
The 21-year-old is listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, but appears larger than that, and his performance hasn’t yet caught up with his potential. Ynoa owns a 4.87 ERA (22 earned runs in 40-2/3 innings) across three levels of the Braves’ system this season. He’s operated as a starter and reliever.
While in Triple-A, Ynoa posted a 5.63 ERA, allowing 10 runs in 16 innings. He struck out 19 and walked 10.
“He’s got a big arm,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Big stuff. He throws upwards of 100 (mph) with a hard slider and a change-up. I hear that, you look at it, and it’s one of those things where if he gets it over, it’s going to be really good.”
Ynoa is close with Julio Teheran, who was somewhat a mentor for him in spring. Ynoa said Teheran is a “great person” who’s given him valuable advice in the past two years.
With Sean Newcomb starting Saturday and on a pitch limit, the Braves wanted a fresh option in the bullpen. Enter Ynoa, who may not be here long, but could make his way into the Braves’ future plans.
“He’s a young kid,” Snitker said. “In order for him to refine his pitches, he needs to start (in Triple-A). He needs to pitch. So that’s what he’s been doing. He’s experienced out of the bullpen, so he may be a guy down the road that we call on to put in the bullpen. If he’s stretched out, we need a spot start and he’s on the roster, he’ll be doing that also.”