Archive for Manny Banuelos
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.
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.
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.
Via Andrew Marchand, the Yankees have decided to shut top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos down for the rest of the season in hopes of getting him healthy in time for winter ball. The 21-year-old southpaw has thrown just 24 innings this year due to a minor back problem and a non-structural elbow injury that VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman described as a bone bruise.
“He’ll recover from this,” said Newman. “That’s what our doctors say. We have no doubt about it. At this point, there is no reason to push it. We are trying to be as prepared as we can for next season.” The Yankees could sent Banuelos to the Arizona Fall League, but that’s a rough environment for a young pitcher. A trip home to Mexico or one of the other Latin American winter leagues could be in order, assuming the elbow actually heals up at some point. A few weeks ago we heard that Banuelos was on a throwing program.
In an Insider-only blog post, Keith Law ranked baseball’s best prospects on contending teams in terms of their trade value. SS Jurickson Profar of the Rangers tops the list, followed by RHP Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and OF Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals. The Yankees didn’t place anyone in the top ten, but C Gary Sanchez and OF Mason Williams rank 13th and 15th, respectively. They would have ranked higher had it not been for the whole Single-A thing — kids at the upper levels have more trade value because they’re closer to contributing.
On the other side of the coin, Kevin Goldstein posted an article (Insider req’d) looking at prospects who have lost trade value this season. Both LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Dellin Betances made the list thanks to their disappointing seasons, the former due to an elbow injury and the latter due to control problems. The Yankees are kinda stuck in trade bait limbo right now, with their top chips in the lower minors and their upper level chips struggling.
Via Josh Norris, pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras confirmed that LHP Manny Banuelos (elbow) has been throwing off a mound and recently had a 25-pitch fastball-changeup session. I suppose that means he’s yet to reintroduce the curveball, which makes sense since breaking balls tend to put more stress on the elbow. Contreras indicated that Banuelos is getting close to a return, though “close” is probably a relative term.
Meanwhile, RHP Jose Campos (elbow) is not expected to return this season. Contreras confirmed that there is no structural damage in his elbow. He’s currently on a throwing program but the minor league season ends in about six weeks and he’s unlikely to be ready in time for game action. Campos will instead head to Instructional League in the fall. RHP Dan Burawa (back) has not been cleared by doctors to resume baseball activities and won’t play at all this year. He was impressive in Spring Training and had a chance to sneak into the big league bullpen mix at some point this summer if he stayed healthy. For shame.
In an Insider-only piece, Keith Law published his midseason top 50 prospects list today. SS Jurickson Profar of the Rangers, who put on a show in the Futures Game by homering from the left side of the plate and singling from the right side, claimed the top spot to what should be no one’s surprise. RHP Dylan Bundy and SS Manny Machado, both of the Orioles, round out the top three. Some big things are happening in Baltimore.
The Yankees placed three players on the list, led by OF Mason Williams at #21. “He was recently promoted to High Class A after posting an .848 OPS in a half-season at Charleston,” wrote KLaw. “Williams earns a lot of raves from scouts between the tools and his general feel for the game, especially on defense.” Mason ranked 34th on Law’s preseason list, so he made a modest jump into the top 25. I’m not sure how much higher he can rank unless he taps into some hidden power at some point.
C Gary Sanchez wasn’t too far behind Williams at #28, and Law says he’s “improved markedly on defense to the point where you can picture him remaining behind the plate long term, and the bat should make him an MVP candidate if he does stay there.” Now that sure is good to hear, the defense has always been the long-term question with Sanchez. He doesn’t need to be a Gold Glover, just adequate. Law notes that Sanchez is primed for yet another jump up the rankings after making the leap from #55 in his preseason list.
The third Yankees farmhand to crack the top 50 is OF Tyler Austin at #45. “[He can] really hit, with a balanced swing and some pull power already, although when I caught him early this season, he was struggling a little to make adjustments to changing speeds, something that has improved in the last two-plus months,” said Law in his write-up. Austin was unranked in the preseason list and obviously made a huge jump thanks to his big full season league debut.
For comparison’s sake, Baseball America ranked Williams, Sanchez, and Austin as the 28th, 30th, and 39th best prospects in baseball in their recent midseason top 50 list, respectively. Good to see we have a bit of a consensus on where these three rank in terms of the bigger picture. LHP Manny Banuelos and several other injured pitchers were ineligible for Law’s list, but I confirmed with him that Manny would have cracked the top 50 if healthy. RHP Dellin Betances is healthy but obviously wasn’t close to the top 50, especially after ranking just 83rd before the season. Either way, three and potentially four top 50 guys is pretty darn good.
Injury updates? Injury updates!…
- Brett Gardner (elbow) will take dry swings at some point this weekend, his first time doing any sort of serious baseball activity since suffering his second setback. If all goes well during his latest rehab attempt, he’s expected back at the end of the month. [George King]
- Joba Chamberlain (elbow, ankle) faced six batters during a 25-pitch simulated game this morning. He struck out three, walked one, and allowed a hit. He and the team will get together to discuss the next step, which could be a minor league rehab game. [Mark Didtler]
- Austin Romine (back) caught Joba today. Two days ago we heard that he still a few weeks away from returning to game action. [Didtler]
- David Aardsma (elbow) has not resumed throwing and is still awaiting test results after feeling pain in his surgically repaired right elbow about a week ago. [Didtler]
- Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) continues to throw bullpen sessions and figures to begin facing hitters in live batting practice at some point soon. [Didtler]
- Manny Banuelos (elbow) has been throwing in Tampa for a few weeks now according to Dellin Betances. The two are close friends. Still no timetable for Manny’s return, however. [Josh Norris]
It’s only late-May, but Keith Law posted an updated list of the top 25 prospects in the minors today (subs. req’d). RHP Dylan Bundy of the Orioles claims the top spot with OF Bryce Harper now in the big leagues, and Baltimore also owns the number three prospect in SS Manny Machado. SS Jurickson Profar of the Rangers is sandwiched between them at number two.
OF Mason Williams check in at #24, up ten spots from KLaw’s preseason ranking. “He’s not walking, but he’s also making a ton of contact, and he’s barely begun to fill out physically,” he wrote. “There’s a lot of projection involved in this ranking but he’s a favorite of many scouts (and of me) because of the substantial upside here.” LHP Manny Banuelos was ineligible for the list because he’s on the DL, but I confirmed with Law that he would have made the top 25 as well. He ranked 23rd on the preseason list.
5:01pm: Via Norris, Banuelos did go for an MRI and it came back clean. It’s more of a “tired arm” than actual soreness, apparently.
2:30pm: Via Josh Norris, left-hander Manny Banuelos was placed on the Triple-A disabled list for precautionary reasons and his sore left elbow is not considered serious. Banuelos and Eduardo Nunez (sore thumb) both hit the shelf just yesterday. It’s been a pretty brutal season for pitching injuries, so this is welcome news. Hopefully it remains nothing serious and Manny can get back on the mound relatively soon.
6:56pm: Via Mike Vander Woude, it’s a sore left elbow for Banuelos. Yuck.
6:00pm: Via Chad Jennings and Donnie Collins, infielder Eduardo Nunez and left-hander Manny Banuelos have both been placed on the 7-day DL in Triple-A. Nunez hurt his thumb a few days ago but it’s unclear what’s up with Banuelos. Perhaps the lat issue that shelved him a few weeks ago popped back up. Both guys could technically return this weekend, but we’ll see.
Five questions and four answers this week, and I tried to keep it short but mostly failed. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar if you want to send us anything, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Shaun asks: Do you guys think David Robertson will automatically get the closer’s job when he returns? I hope Rafael Soriano flourishes in the role he is most comfortable and we can have Robertson back to Houdini!
That’s exactly what I hope happens. I want Soriano to pitch well regardless of inning, but I hope he really takes to the closer role and dominates so they can use Robertson a little more liberally in the seventh and eighth innings. The Yankees did bump Soriano back to the seventh inning following his DL stint last season because Robertson was dominant, so I hope history kinda sorta repeats itself.
Jay asks: What team has a need for 2nd base? I would think Eduardo Nunez could start on a lot of teams and contribute; just as the Yankees are thinking, putting him in one position could help his defense.
Middle infielders around baseball are just awful these days, so I’m sure a number of clubs would have interest in Nunez as an everyday guy despite his complete lack of defensive value. I know I’d rather take a chance on him than sign someone like the recently released Orlando Hudson.
Nunez has a 95 wRC+ in 450 career big league plate appearances, so he’s fallen just short of league average offensive production. His career Triple-A performance is similar and that’s basically the guy you’re going to get. Nunez will hit for a average but not power, make a ton of contact, and steal a bunch of bases. That’s what most middle infielders do, though at least he offers a chance at improvement at 25 years old. He’s still two years why of his peak, in theory.
The problem with trading Nunez right now is that his value is way down. The Yankees had to send him down because his defense was unplayable and that dropped his stock. We know other clubs — specifically the Mariners and Braves — have had interest in him in the past and I’m sure they’ve love to buy low now. Unless we’re talking about a multi-player package to acquire a star-caliber player, the Yankees are probably better off holding on to Nunez rather than take whatever uninteresting prospects clubs offer in a trade.
Tim asks: Chances or what do you think of the inconsistent Ivan Nova being sent down and Banuelos put in the NYY rotation in his place?
Jeff asks: Is it insane to think that Manny Banuelos can pitch his way into the big league rotation sometime this year?
Gonna lump these two together and will start with the Banuelos part. Yes, I think he could pitch his way into the rotation later this season. I thought there was a chance he would do it last year, but then he had to pull a Dellin Betances impression with the walk rate. Banuelos’ performance has been very encouraging following his return from the lat injury — 15 strikeouts an zero walks in 14.2 IP — but he’s not out of the woods yet. Three starts don’t erase the last year’s worth of command problems. He’s got to continue to show improvement and if he keeps looking like the Banuelos of old (meaning 2008-2010), then I could definitely see him cracking the rotation in the second half.
As for Nova, I also think there’s a chance he could be sent down at some point. Heck, they send him down for less last summer. Obviously this right foot and ankle injury complicates things a bit, but he had a very obvious problem leaving pitches up and thus getting hammered for extra-base hits before the injury. Nova leads the league extra-base hits allowed (32) and has allowed eleven (!) more than any other pitcher who’s made no more than seven starts. Hopefully he shakes off the ankle problem and starts getting pitches down, but if he doesn’t improve and we’re in the middle of June or something, an assignment to Triple-A has to be a consideration. If Banuelos happens to keep pitching well and shows improved command, he’d be the obvious candidate to take Nova’s spot.
Shai asks: Why are good lefty starters worth more than good righty starters? Aren’t there more (good) righty hitters in baseball? I understand the value of a LOOGY but shouldn’t righty starters be worth more?
It’s just a supply and demand thing. There’s roughly a 75-25 split between righties and lefties around the league these days (both starters and reliever), so there are just fewer quality left-handers to be had. Lefties are an even higher prior for the Yankees than other teams because of the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. That’s really all there is to it. There are fewer great lefties around than great righties, so the southpaws are more valuable. Same reason great shortstops are more valuable than great first baseman.