Minnesota signed Yennier Cano back in June 2019 as an international free agent. He was a 25-year-old Cuban native who had pitched multiple years in the Cuban National Series. From age 19-to-21, he made 76 relief appearances in the CNS and posted a 2.12 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. During those outings, he pitched over 161 innings, so his team used him for multiple innings. Cano posted a 5.0 K/9, but he was over 5.5 years younger than the average age of the competition in the CNS.
His international experience was one of the traits that intrigued teams interested in signing him. He pitched in the Caribbean World Series, Pan Am Games, and Premier 12. Cano helped his team win the championship in the Serie Nacional 54 as he amassed six saves on the way to the title. It was clear that he was a reliever, but he had the potential to be a fast riser in any organization.
Cano made his first affiliated appearances during the 2019 season with the GCL Twins before moving up to Fort Myers. He made eight appearances (13.0 IP) with the Miracle and posted a 2.77 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP. One of the most promising signs was his increase in strikeout rate as he struck out a batter per inning. His walk rate was too high (8.4 BB/9), but it was a small sample size. He had the opportunity for the 2020 season to push himself closer to the big leagues.
Unfortunately, the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season. Cano's next time on the mound was in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he made seven appearances. He posted a 1.08 ERA with a 0.60 WHIP and an 11-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio. From there, Cano could transition those successes to the Double-A level.
Cano started the 2022 campaign at Triple-A, where he pitched 12 innings. He has yet to allow an earned run, and he has cut his walk rate from 5.1 BB/9 to 3.0 BB/9. He struck out 14 batters and posted an excellent 0.83 WHIP. Injuries are certainly one of the reasons Cano is getting a big-league chance, but his 2022 performance has also warranted this opportunity.
As far as a scouting report, Cano has four pitches, including a fastball, changeup, slider, and a splitter. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, but he can rear back and hit the upper-90s. His fastball also has a lot of sink to it, but his splitter is the pitch that generates the most swings and misses. His slider is his highest-graded secondary pitch, which FanGraphs ranks as a 50 currently and a 55 future grade. His low-slot angle will provide a unique look for batters, especially with the amount of velocity he can generate. Cano may get an extended look at the big-league level depending on Minnesota's injuries.
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