Prospect Profile: Manny Banuelos

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Manny Banuelos | LHP

Background
Born in Durango, Mexico, Banuelos signed with Sultanes de Monterrey of the Mexican Baseball League at a very young age (I can’t figure out when, exactly) and as far as I can tell he never pitched for them. Lee Sigman, the Yankee scout that covers Mexico, signed a then 17-year-old Banuelos away from Monterrey along with three other players in early 2008 for a total of $450,000. Al Aceves also came over in the same transaction.

Pro Career
The Yankees held Banuelos back in Extended Spring Training after signing, and he made his professional debut later that summer with the team’s rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate. He made three starts and nine relief appearances with the GCL Yanks, pitching to a 3.72 FIP in 42 innings. Banuelos was assigned to Low-A Charleston as an 18-year-old the next year and he was nothing short of brilliant. He logged an impressive 108 innings with the River Dogs, striking out 8.67 and walking just 2.33 men per nine innings, good for a 2.76 FIP. Although he was selected to the Futures Game, Banuelos did not pitch in the game because of a weather delay. The Yankees rewarded him with a late season promotion to High-A Tampa, and he tossed a perfect inning of relief (two strikeouts) in his only appearance with the team.

Still just 19-year-old, Banuelos was scheduled to start the 2010 season with Tampa before an appendectomy got in the way. He had surgery in Spring Training but was out until late-June, then he made two quick rehab starts (5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) before moving up to Tampa. Banuelos was once again brilliant, making ten starts in High-A this summer. He struck out 62 and walked just 14 in 44.1 innings, a stout 1.71 FIP. Not wanting to waste that kind of performance in the low minors, the Yankees bumped Banuelos up to Double-A Trenton at the end of the season. He made three starts with the Thunder, striking out 17 and walking eight in 15.1 innings (4.24 FIP).

Although Monterrey retained Banuelos’ winter ball rights, but the Yanks worked out an arrangement with them that allowed the lefty to participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. He made seven starts with the Phoenix Desert Dogs, striking out 16 and walking ten in the notoriously hitter friendly league. All told, Banuelos has thrown 240.2 innings as a pro, during which time he’s struck out 244 batters and walked just 72. He’s also allowed just ten homers.

Scouting Report
The scouting report on Banuelos has changed quite a bit since he signed. He joined the Yankees as a short little left-hander that offered an 88-90 fastball with inconsistent offspeed pitches, but he’s added velocity and developed more consistency in his three years with the organization. Still short and left-handed, Banuelos is listed at 5-foot-10 and 155 lbs., but there’s no way that weight in current. He’s probably closer to 175-180 or so, maybe even more. His fastball now routinely sits 90-94 and he ran it up as high as 96 during the summer, backing it up with a changeup that fades down-and-away from righties. That’s his second best pitch. Although his curveball is improving, it’s still inconsistent with some development left.

Banuelos earns praise for three things. First is his simple and deceptive delivery and the way the ball explodes out of his hand. His fastball jumps on hitters and often leads to ugly swings, allowing him to pitch upstairs consistently. Second is his control and command, which is already major league average and continuously improving. Third is the tremendous poise and mound presence he exhibits, which is what caught the Yankees’ attention in the first place. It’s worth mentioning that there’s no projection left in Banuelos’ frame; unless he has an early-20’s growth spurt, what you see is what you’re going to get. Regardless, it’s a front-of-the-rotation package thanks to progress he’s made during the last three seasons.

Here’s some video courtesy of Mike Ashmore, and you can find a ton more on YouTube.

2011 Outlook
After finishing up this season with three starts at Double-A Trenton, Banuelos will return there to start the 2011 campaign. He’s still extremely young (doesn’t turn 20 until March), so there’s no rush. Expect the Yankees to keep him there for the majority of the season, and if any promotion does occur, it likely won’t come until August or so. A lot would have to go right for Banuelos while a lot goes wrong at the big league level for him to make his major league debut in 2011. A 2012 debut is far more likely, and even then he’ll still just be 21 years old.

My Take
While you can certainly make a case for Dellin Betances or Andrew Brackman, Banuelos is the best pitching prospect in the organization in my book. I love the combination of age, stuff, command, and poise, plus he’s got a much better health record than those guys. I honestly can’t remember the last time the Yanks had a left-handed starter with this kind of potential in Double-A, we probably have to go all the way back to Brandon Claussen or Eric Milton. My only real concern is long-term durability given his size, but that’s more anecdotal than anything else. The Yankees have something special in Banuelos, but the real test begins now that he’s in Double-A.

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RAB Live Chat
  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    30 years after they lost out on Fernandomania we get Mannymania.

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Oh screw you…

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        You should have put down the whole pizza you were eating and posted sooner.

        /TSJC’d

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          No place to put it down, what with all the cheesy-bread and garlic-butter sauce all over my desk. Only one place for that breakfast-pizza to go… To meet it’s maker.

          It’s maker is my belly. Just in case that wasn’t clear.

          • fonzi

            youre stomach can make pizzas? Thats awesome! Can it make steak also?

  • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    MannyMania. I’m feeling like the Man-Ban Watch might be up on RAB for the 2011 season.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Although he was selected to the Futures Game, Banuelos did not pitch in the game because of a weather delay.

    I remember being disappointed that he was the only player who didn’t get into the game.
    If I recall correctly, I believe that was the game where Peter Gammons had an on air orgasm when Casey Kelly pitched. I believe that is the reason why he left ESPN.(May not be true)

    • I Voted for Kodos

      If I recall correctly, I believe that was the game where Peter Gammons had an on air orgasm when Casey Kelly pitched.

      Damn you for putting that mental picture in my head.

    • pat

      I remember watching that game and thinking that Kelly actually looked pretty good for a kid who was so new to pitching.

      /forgive me.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        You’re dead to me now pat.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    ManBan is a beast. He faced the top prsspects in the game and held his own. Didn’t strikeout much but he’s only 19.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/GearCity bigjuan

    Obviously it’s already been said, but just imagine what the hype would be around Manny if he was 4 or 5 inches taller.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      If Manny was 6’3 he would be considered 22% of Casey Kelly. High praise indeed.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/GearCity bigjuan

        Fact: Casey Kelly has two female first names.

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    Any word on where he starts 2011? Gotta be Trenton, right? All of the Killer Bs there too?

    • http://twitter.com/#!/GearCity bigjuan

      Quoted directly from the profile:

      After finishing up this season with three starts at Double-A Trenton, Banuelos will return there to start the 2011 campaign.

    • Wrath Hannd of Prokchop

      YeaHS he strats in Trentin. All hail the ManBsn for he will save us and crate the prefetc abretion till tommorow when it reins

    • vin

      Yeah. I think they all start there with Brackman getting the quickest promotion.

  • vin

    So excited for Manny. I certainly wouldn’t object to a Banuelos Watch this year.

    If he can make himself major league-ready by age 22, then there’s a lot the Yanks can work with. There’s no need to rush or make a quick decision on him.

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    Can we be sure Manny is really 19? Aceves is supposed to be 27, but he looks like he’s 32.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Yes we can.

      • pete

        /obama’d

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        So we’re supposed to believe that a Mexican club had him at 17 throwing gas as a southpaw, and they only gave him up for $450k?

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          The scouting report on Banuelos has changed quite a bit since he signed. He joined the Yankees as a short little left-hander that offered an 88-90 fastball with inconsistent offspeed pitches

          • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

            17 yo southpaw and touching 90? How many high school pitchers in the U.S. do that? And the Yanks got him for the equivalent of 4th or 5th round money? There’s got to be more to this story.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              You’re making too much out of this. It was about his team in Mexico wanting close to half a million dollars and being willing to move four players. Same thing happened with Joakim Soria once upon a time. Money talks.

              • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is Mike Axisa.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          Yes. There’s no reason to think otherwise. Mexico’s record keeping is fine.

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you need to consider that the Mexican club probably had no idea how good he’d become (his stuff was very different back then than it is today), and that $450,000 might have been a ton of money to that Mexican club. This was a 17 yr old kid with NO track-record who sat in the upper 80s at the time. It’s really not so crazy, if you try to put it in context and forget what you know about him today and how things have changed in the last couple of years.

          Nobody was talking about Manny Banuelos before the Yanks acquired him. I don’t think he was a hot commodity on the IFA market (someone who follows this stuff more closely than me can chime-in about it, if they see fit). Considering who/what he was, when the Yanks acquired him, it doesn’t seem out of line to me.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

            This was a 17 yr old kid with NO track-record who sat in the upper 80s at the time.

            The Jeff Locke of Mexico. Locke was pitching in Northern NH against weak competition hitting high 80’s (as early as 14 or 15). Should we question his age?

    • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

      Not all Latin American countries are the Dominican Republic.

      • ZZ

        Not every player who lies about his age is from the Dominican Republic.

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Have there been many players from other countries who were found to have lied about their age and even had fake documentation to back up their lies? I don’t remember any but I’m totally just reacting off-the-cuff to this.

          It’s not a criticism of Dominicans, it’s about the poor record-keeping there. Seems like they in particular have a problem with systemic problems creating poor age-verification. Have we seen that elsewhere?

          • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

            This. I’m from Puerto Rico and LOVE the Dominican Republic, but their record keeping is a disaster. Not in the big cities, but in the rural areas it is crap.

            • Rey22

              Nice, me too. Where from?

  • Jonathan

    living in KS i never get to hear these guys names actually said and I have no idea how to pronounce a lot of them. I assume it is like Bahn-way-los but how do you pronounce Betances?

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “how do you pronounce Betances?”

      Big-muhth-er-fuhk-er.

    • Jorge

      More like Bahn-WEH-los, and allow the first syllable to flow nicely into the second (altogether now….) Bahn-way-los would be how you pronounced it if you wanted to underscore the “I’m an anglo” point.

      Betances would be pronounced Be-TAHN-says.

      No thoughts on how you pronounce “Jeter” at this moment.

      • Tom Swift

        Zhe-tay. It’s French for to throw.

        • vin

          It’s certainly not French for “to range to his left or right.”

          • RL

            Or how to retain the respect of your long-time fans.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        un-GRAT-full

  • pat

    Manny had a lot of good hitters taking baaad swings during that AzFL Futures game. Just wonderful.

  • pete

    Dear Yankees,

    Please don’t fuck this up.

    Sincerely,
    All of us.

    • vin

      This. They better sign Randy Choate for 3 or 4 years just to make sure they don’t feel compelled to try Manny as a LOOGY.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Why would they want to take a starting pitching prospect with multiple ++ pitches and put him in the bullpen? Oh sorry, Joba just said hi….

  • pete

    There will be a point next year when the Yankees’ AA affiliate will have Adam Warren as its fourth starter.

    #holyshit.

    • pat

      That point is probably going to be Opening Day. And their 5th starter? A dude who had a .993 whip with 8.7 k/9 and 2.2 bb/9 in A ball last year.

  • Monteroisdinero

    I may have reason to see some Scranton games again in the post-Jesus era.

  • http://yankeesseeds.wordpress.com dennis

    Manny will probably be the last of the killer bees to make the big leagues, but he will probably be the best of the 3 of them. I think the curve ball has to develop into a plus pitch to dominate lefties. If that happens, curve lefties plus plus change righties = beast.

  • Not Tank the Frank

    Yeah but if only he was as good as Felix Doubront. That guy plus Ellsbury gets you The Justin Upton.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

      That guy plus Ellsbury gets you The Justin Upton plus 85% of Upton’s salary for the next five years, plus the third pick in next year’s draft.

      That’s right. He’s so good he can be traded for draft picks.

      • DoubleG

        Unfortunately next years number three pick may be Gerit Cole.

  • Hawkins44

    “Regardless, it’s a front-of-the-rotation package thanks to progress he’s made during the last three seasons”

    Can we really say this about a pitcher that throws 90-93 and hasn’t even been exposed to AAA hitters?

    Usually RAB isn’t in the hyperbole business… a little Jon Gruden, Criss Colinsworth if you will….

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      You’re misinterpreting what he said. He didn’t say he’s a front of the rotation MLB starter today, nor that he will definitely become one. He said he has the potential to be one; he said that if he continues to develop and stays healthy, his stuff could develop into front of the (MLB) rotation stuff.

      I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a prospect-watcher, professional or amateur, who disagrees with that notion.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        LaTroy is still bitter about giving up #21.

    • S

      Most Major leaguers sit within 90-94 mph as starters, so that’s not much of an issue, but I do understand your concern. Think about it this way last years AFL had Heyward, Stanton, Posey, and several other hitters who are now in the Majors, and many players that are at least AAA level hitters right now. This year’s AFL was no different yet, Banuelos more than held his own. If Banuelos control stays top notch, he could throw like Jamie Moyer yet dominate a lineup like a bastard love-child of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Control is what matters most

      • RL

        a bastard love-child of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez

        Not a picture I needed …

        • All Praise Be To Mo

          Jose Bautista? Combine the roids and dominicaness?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      There were scouts this year who said he was the best pitcher they saw in the minors all year. That’s clearly a potential front of the rotation player.

    • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=9370232 Mike HC

      Mike compared him to Eric Milton and Brandon Claussen. I think he realizes that these things don’t always work out to their full potential.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Milton got us an in his prime all star second baseman leadoff hitter. I’d take that out of Man-Ban. I’m trying to think who that might be in this game nowadays. Jose Reyes perhaps?

        • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=9370232 Mike HC

          Well, if Jeter does actually end up leaving the Yanks, crazier things have happened, I would say the Yanks would surely check on the availability and cost of shortstops on all levels. It seems like a premium shortstop would be something worth giving up a couple of our top prospects for. Other than Montero, who I consider the Yanks starting catcher at this point, not a prospect.

  • Monteroisdinero

    I like his mechanics in that video. Smooth delivery/good pitch disguise. He does look like a young skinny Valenzuela in the pic.

    • FIPster Doofus

      He looks like Tedy Bruschi in that picture, IMO.

  • Avi

    Baseball America came out with there top ten AFL prospects today. Banuelos is ranked as the second best pitching prospect behind only KC’s Mike Montgomery. Casey “Ruth” Kelly is BEHIND Manny (finally some common sense), with Bryce Harper being the top overall prospect.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      Those scouts obviously only watch Kelly pitch left handed…

      Casey Kelly: “But I know something you don’t know. I am not left handed!”

      • vin

        Well done.

  • DoubleOOXioti

    I cannot wait for next season to attend some of games in Trenton and see back-to-back-to-back games pitched by the Killer Bee’s

  • UncleArgyle

    Whenever ever I read a ManBan scouting report the image I always get is a Mexican Johan Santana. This is a good thing.

  • UncleArgyle

    Fearless Prediction: Manny Banuelos will be the Yankees most important non Rivera Reliever come September.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      Please no. We do not need B-Manners.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      I didn’t know Manny Banuelos was Spanish for A.J. Burnett.

  • LunaticFringe

    Manny Banuelos = Whitey Ford for the 21st century.

  • ledavidisrael

    Mo’s heir?

    • ledavidisrael

      addendum

      IF durability becomes a problem…

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Mo’s heir will be Hector Noesi.

  • EndlessMike

    Lets hope this set of three do better then Joba,Hughes and Kennedy and all the hype they had.

    • ethan

      you’re joking right? Hughes is at worst a middle-of-the-rotation starter, Joba is at worst a middle reliever. That’s pretty good out of three prospects right? You have to assume that hype or no hype most of these guys won’t pan out.

      • I Wish I Was Swish

        I agree. And Kennedy pitched fairly well in Arizona this past year so he could be a mid to back-end starter. When you have prospects like these 3, I think we have to be realistic and assume that 1 out of the 3 Bs will pan out. Of course I’d love to see them all succeed.

  • I Wish I Was Swish

    Good stuff. I loved checking DOTF and seeing ManBan’s pitching lines this season.