Injuries’ impact on prospect development

The Offensive Slumps
The Yankees and August trades

The 2012 season has been an up and down year for the Yankees farm system, fitting given the extreme variability and uncertainty inherent in following the minor leagues.  While a number of prospects have taken big steps forward, injuries to several top prospects have overshadowed the farm’s 2012 successes.  Injuries to Manny Banuelos, Jose Campos, and Mason Williams, likely three of the Yankees top five prospects, will prevent them from playing again this season, and both Campos and Banuelos have already missed substantial time.  Since the news on Banuelos and Williams is fairly recent, I figured it would make sense to take a look at how the injuries will affect their prospect status, and projected ascent through the minors.

(Roger Peterson/

Mason Williams

Williams was recently sidelined with a tear in the labrum of his left (non-throwing) shoulder after diving to catch a ball in the outfield, and will miss the remainder of the season.  Williams’ aggressive play in the outfield put him at risk of further shoulder dislocations if the tear was not repaired, so he went under the knife.  Mason likely has several months of rehab ahead of him, though since the tear does not appear to be a very serious one, it is believed that he will be back in time for Spring Training in 2013.

The injury likely won’t affect Mason’s prospect status in any substantial way, as he should be fully healed by 2013, and showed his stuff over a strong 2012 season.  He will still be a consensus top 50 prospect, and likely rank no lower than #2 in the Yankee system (depending on how bullish one is on Gary Sanchez).  However, it could slightly slow down his timeline to the Majors.  I think missing the last month or so of 2012 increases the likelihood that Mason begins 2013 in High-A Tampa rather than getting pushed to Double-A Trenton.  My guess is that he spends 2013 between Tampa and Trenton, starts 2014 in Triple-A Scranton (making his Major League debut late in the season), and joins the Yankees outfield full-time in 2015 (barring a trade).  Ultimately, it’s not a big difference unless you were expecting Williams to be in the outfield in 2014 (when the austerity budget kicks in), but it shouldn’t have much of an effect on his long-term value.  The injury likely decreases his trade value in the offseason, so if you were hoping that the Yankees would deal Williams in a package for Justin Upton, you may be out of luck.

Manny Banuelos

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Yesterday, it was announced that Banuelos, who hasn’t pitched in nearly three months because of elbow and back injuries, was going to be shut down for the season.  News like this often would ordinarily lead me to assume the worst, that the Mexican southpaw was facing imminent Tommy John Surgery.  However, Mark Newman downplayed the severity of the injury, comparing it to a “bone bruise,” which leaves open the possibility that Banuelos could pitch in winter ball this year.  He reportedly has been throwing, which likely indicates that he may not need surgery (assuming there aren’t any major setbacks).  Either way, it has basically been a lost season for Banuelos, and he still has a lot of work to do to prove that he can hold up under a full starter’s workload.

The injury likely ensures that Banuelos will spend the vast majority of 2013 in the minor leagues.   He hasn’t accumulated enough nnings for the Yankees to feel comfortable giving him a rotation spot, and he needs to prove that he can get his command back to where it was prior to 2011.  Banuelos hasn’t exceeded 130 innings in any minor league season, so I imagine the Yankees will try to get him up to 150 or so next year, putting him on track to join the 2014 rotation if all goes well.  If Banuelos were healthy in 2012, he could have made a push later this season to join the rotation, or at very least get the opportunity to earn a spot in Spring Training 2013.  Banuelos probably would have been a top 50 prospect this year had he been healthy and effective, but his injury (validating the concerns of skeptics that a pitcher of Manny’s stature may not be durable) likely reduces his prospect status somewhat.  He will still be one of the younger pitchers in the Triple-A International League next year, and has plenty of time to figure things out and become an effective major league pitcher.

There has been virtually no news on Campos and his mysterious elbow inflammation.  The lack of news is always disconcerting, though it goes with the territory in the lower minors.  However, if there isn’t any serious structural damage, Campos could come into 2013 fully healthy and in better shape, which could allow him to have a successful season and re-establish himself on the prospect map.

While these injuries may set back Williams and Banuelos’ timelines somewhat, neither of them are serious enough to merit worrying too much about their long-term future.  While labrum injuries can be death for pitchers, the fact that Williams’ injury was reportedly not very severe, and on his non-throwing shoulder, bodes well for a complete recovery.  As for Banuelos, the lack of structural damage in his elbow is encouraging, and assuming there are no other problems that we haven’t heard about yet, he should enter 2013 fully healed and ready to rock.  The rehab process required to get Williams and Banuelos back to normal will be a test of their dedication and work ethic, but ultimately, they will have to overcome much bigger challenges if they want to become successful big league players.

The Offensive Slumps
The Yankees and August trades
  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    “so if you were hoping that the Yankees would deal Williams in a package for Justin Upton, you may be out of luck”
    Or perhaps you will look back on this injury 4 years from now and marvel at just how lucky the Yanks were that they didn’t trade him prior to 2013 season.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I vote for option number 2 and hope it proves correct.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Eric, if I went that way, and wasn’t married already, I’d marry you. Great job once again.

    From what I know, and all I know I really know from you guys, I’m not worried about Willams, but am generally befuddled-but-not-concerned as to either Banuelos or Campos. Plenty of time for either to develop.

    • jjyank

      I’m telling Mrs. Tilapia!

  • vin

    Makes me wonder what the bigger disappointment was this year… Manny’s lost year or Dellin’s Disaster(c).

    I’m guessing Betances because he’s older, and the lotto ticket seems like a dud.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Agreed. Injuries happen. Manny still hasn’t given us reason to believe he won’t pitch well when he’s healthy.

      Dellin has given us plenty. I still have hope for him, but man was this year a mess.

    • Reggie C.

      Yet, a semi-reasonable person wouldn’t ever hold much hope on hitting the lottery. I took the view that Betances becomes a ML starter when I actually see him make a start that’s not forced due to injury. With the season betances has had you’d have to be nuts to think he’ll ever make a start as a NYY. That said, i think we all viewed Betances a better likely to bust than Banuelos.

      And all that leads me to say … Banuelos’s lost season is the biggest disappointment narrative in the whole farm system.

      • vin

        Interesting perspective. Dellin’s 2010 was so tantalizing though. The payoff could’ve been huge, even if it was a long-shot.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      One is still young at AAA, one completely lost his prospect status as a starter.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Personally speaking, I had no hope for Betances anyway.

  • JohnC

    Campos has also been on a throwing program lately last I heard. He will not pitch in Winter ball though, as Yanks will want him to rest this winter and come back strong and healthy next year

  • JohnC

    Has anyone heard any update on Gumbs? Is he coming back this year?

    • Mike Axisa

      He just tweeted today that he’s started hitting again, so maybe he’ll be back soon.

      • Aluis

        Mike, any update on Frankie Cervelli? And wouldn’t he be better at this point than Stewart?

  • Reggie C.

    You should’ve added Austin Romine to the list. He probably wont get settled at or behind the plate till AAA season’s end, which is around 30 games from now. I’m not sure if there’s anything anyone can reasonably expect from Romine going forward in 2012 that will make the organization consider Romine a viable ML catcher for 2013.

    Romine’s season devouring DL stint couldn’t have come at a worse time, and is one that might’ve ruined his chances of becoming a contributor to the ’13 team.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      The only thing that can stop him from breaking camp as the backup catcher next year is his back.

      There’s literally no one else on the roster.

      • Reggie C.

        Sure he’s on the 40 man, but with Martin sporting a .193/.310/.375 triple slash, the solution isn’t platooning Martin with Romine from the get-go. Spring training doesn’t make up for missing over 100 triple A games. I think Cashman looks at the trade market to strengthen the position

        • YanksFanInBeantown

          If Romine catches 2.5 games a week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Russ hit at least .230

          And .230/.345/.410 really isn’t that bad, all things considered.

          Not to mention that Romine could probably hit better than Chris Stewart if he was called up today.

        • Kosmo

          Have you looked at the potential trade market for catchers this next offseason? It´s abysmal.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Which is why we need to inject some Bartolo cells into Romine, like, yesterday.

      • JobaWockeeZ


    • JohnC

      Not necessarily. If he gets called up IN September and gets in some games, he could compete for the backup catcher job in 2013 with a good ST

  • CP

    (validating the concerns of skeptics that a pitcher of Manny’s stature may not be durable)

    And the injury to Pineda validates the opinion that tall pitchers may not be durable.

    • Tom in Georgia

      I’d like a rotation that includes Ron Guidry, Bobby Schantz and Whitey Ford.

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        I wouldn’t say no to Pedro Martinez, either.

        • Tom in Georgia

          Me neither.

      • Kosmo

        since your going with lefties how about Billy Pierce ?

      • viridiana

        Don’t forget Jimmy Key!!

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Thanks for this fine concise information on our best prospects. I certainly hope that Romine can hit enough to stay on the team in 2013. Sanchez is too far away but Romine could hold the fort till the former gets up here. I still expect Banuelos to make his debut sometime in 2013. I hope that Williams recovers quickly and has no lingering effects from his injury.

  • Monty

    Any update on Slade? He’s listed as active but hasn’t played in 5 days.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Romine was mentioned a bit above and, honestly, I’d consider his issues a pretty big disappointment that really threw off the catching depth of this franchise. A healthy and effective Romine might have been able to spell Martin more than Chris Stewart’s weak sauce. Now we’re looking at whether he can remain healthy enough to play such a physically demanding position.

    Betances is, of course, a massive disappointment, especially for those of us who really rooted for a true NYC kid to stand tall on the mound in YS3. Betances’s fall from grace is a much steeper one than Banuelos, to me, if there’s even been a fall from grace for ManBan.

  • FreeAgentSignee

    Get well you all!