Yankees Prospect Watch: Manny Banuelos
The monthly series continues with a Prospect Profile: this week it’s Manny Banuelos.
* Our very own writer Fishjam ranked him the #2 overall prospect when his rankings came out which was before the Montero trade. Here is what he had to say about him, “Had control issues in AA/AAA but most believe it’s just a matter of trying to be too fine as he has solid mechanics and repeats his delivery well. Threw a career-high 130 innings so will be in line for 150-160 this year and could be ready to pitch for NY in 2nd half.”
* Mike Axisa from River Ave Blues rated Banuelos number 1 for this year. Here is what he had to say, “A strong showing in Spring Training fueled speculation that he could break camp with the big league team last season, but Banuelos was ultimately returned to Double-A to start the year. He was the fourth-youngest player in the Eastern League, though his trademark command and control were nowhere to be found. He walked 52 of the 422 batters he faced with Trenton (4.9 BB/9 and 12.3%), then walked another 19 in 34.1 IP after a late-season promotion to Triple-A (5.0 BB/9 and 12.3%). Banuelos walked more batters in 2011 (71) than he did in the three previous seasons of his career combined (66, or 7.4%). He did maintain a high strikeout rate though (8.7 K/9 and 21.7%), and aside from a blister issue in April, he took the ball every five days and logged a career best 129.2 IP.
Despite the walk troubles last year, the scouting report hasn’t changed. Banuelos still sits anywhere from 90-95 with his fastball, backing it up with a knockout changeup and a hard curve that has flirted with the low-80s. He generates swings and misses with all three pitches, and can be untouchable when he’s dotting the edges of the zone like he did from 2008-2010. Banuelos is the Yankees’ best left-handed pitching prospect in what feels like ages, which is kinda surprising given their long history of quality southpaws. A return engagement to Triple-A is in the cards, and a midseason call-up to the big leagues isn’t out of the question. Banuelos can be a worthy left-handed complement to Pineda and Nova, the club’s two young power right-handers at the big league level.
* Seedligns 2 Stars had this to say about Banuelos – “Banuelos’ walk rates have spiked to disturbing levels ever since he reached the upper minors, which knocks his stock down a bit from 2009-10 in my eyes. Still, he just turns 21 in March and has a solid three-pitch mix headlined by a plus changeup. He’s not physically projectable, so he may not develop as much as most pitchers this age, but should settle in as at least a nice mid-rotation arm. Grade: A-“
* Fan Graphs ranked Banuelos #1 as well here is what they had to say, “With the trade of Jesus Montero to Seattle, Banuelos moves up the organizational ladder and into the No. 1 prospect hole. The southpaw is probably about a year away from joining the Yankees’ starting rotation, once he finds a little more consistency with both his fastball command and his overall control. He opened the year with 95.1 innings of work in double-A, where he posted a 4.01 FIP (3.59 ERA) and a walk rate of 4.91 BB/9. Moved up to triple-A for 34.1 more innings Banuelos managed a 3.90 FIP (4.19 ERA) and a walk rate of 4.98 BB/9. Another 100-120 innings in triple-A would definitely be of benefit to the lefty, who features an 89-94 mph fastball, a curveball and a changeup. All three pitches flash the potential to be above-average or plus, giving him a shot at developing into a No. 1 starter in the most dangerous league in Major League Baseball.”