Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Luis Ysla


The San Francisco Giants have a rich connection with the country of Venezuela. Their three World Series runs in the past five years have been anchored by Venezuelan players, including Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Yusmeiro Petit and Hector Sanchez. The Giants have another young Venezuelan who is looking to join his fellow countrymen.

Luis Ysla is a 22 year-old left-handed pitcher who’s most recent action came in Single-A with the Augusta Green Jackets. The Carabobo, Venezuela native isn’t a big guy, as he stands 6’1″, and tips the scales at 185 lbs. But he has some great stuff that has caught the attention of people within the organization.

It’s been a long road for Ysla just to get to this point. The young man became eligible to turn pro in 2008, at the ripe old age of 16. He would remain on the market until 2012, when the Giants signed him to his first professional contract. The waiting wasn’t over for Ysla, as he wouldn’t make his debut until 2013, the following season.

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When Ysla’s opportunity finally came, he took it and ran with it. In his first professional season with the Rookie League Arizona Giants, he pitched in 12 games, compiled a 4-0 record with a 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 51 innings.

The next year, Isla was promoted to Augusta, where he continued to put up strong numbers. In 24 games, his record was 7-6 and his WHIP rose to 1.228, but his ERA fell to 2.45. He struck out 115 batters in 121.1 innings, while walking just 45.

Ysla has some impressive stuff, but he also looks like a guy in his second pro season sometimes. His fastball sits consistently between 92 and 95 and has topped out at 97. He commands the fastball well and can usually hit his spot.

He complements the fastball with a slider, which has a sharp, downward bite, like that of a sinker. It’s not a typical hard slider, as the velocity normally sits around 78 and 82 mph. The downward movement is what makes this pitch effective.

Ysla also features a changeup in his repertoire, but this is his weakest pitch. He lacks consistent command of the pitch, as he too often misses his spot and leaves it up in the zone. The velocity is usually between 80 and 82, which provides a good differential from the fastball. The command is something that can be, and will have to be, fixed as he continues to climb through the organization.

Ysla’s mechanics are questionable at times. He uses a “maximum effort” delivery, much like Tim Lincecum or Yordano Ventura, and that causes him to lose his command and release point every now and again, also much like Lincecum and Ventura. However, when Ysla has a good delivery and release point, he is known to pound the strike zone.

He has been a  starter throughout his first two seasons, as 35 of his 36 appearances have been starts. But it seems like his most value may come as a reliever, where he can go all out with his delivery for a short outing.

The southpaw has shown the ability to get both righties and lefties out in his short stint in the Giants organization. In 2013, right-handers hit .206, while left-handers hit just .200 against Ysla. In 2014, the righties’ average rose but still came in at a quite respectable .244, while lefties hit just .201. He seems like a Jeremy Affeldt-type pitcher, a left-hander who can go multiple innings and retire any hitter when needed.

Ysla still has a long climb to go to make it to the big leagues. But after a long wait to get to this point, he is making the most of it. For now, he is opening eyes and making a name for himself as his journey continues.