A’s add Michael Ynoa to 40-man roster despite 39 career innings, none above Single-A

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One of the most interesting 40-man roster additions yesterday was the A’s choosing to protect 21-year-old pitching prospect Michael Ynoa from the Rule 5 draft despite his throwing a grand total of 39.2 career innings and not yet pitching above Single-A.

Ynoa received a then-record $4.25 million bonus when he signed with the A’s out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2008. He was already 6-foot-7 then and considered an excellent prospect with huge upside, but injuries have repeatedly derailed his career.

Ynoa threw a total of nine innings from 2008-2011, missing all of 2011 following Tommy John elbow surgery, but came back this year to throw 31 innings. Of course, those 31 innings came as a 21-year-old in rookie-ball and low Single-A, and Ynoa struggled mightily with a 6.46 ERA and 25/25 K/BB ratio.

Clearly the A’s believed there was at least some chance one of the other 29 teams would take a flier on Ynoa in the Rule 5 draft next month despite a complete lack of experience or success and they didn’t want to lose their $4.25 million investment for nothing. And so in 2013 he’ll be the only player in low Single-A on a 40-man roster.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.