The other high talent that I saw in the Arizona Fall League was Manny Banuelos, in his not excellent last start in the AFL: October 28, allowing 7 hits and three earned runs in three innings against Peoria. Clearly, he didn't live up to expectations, and it shouldn't surprise that neither did his velocity. After those summer reports of the 5-foot-11 lefty hitting 97 mph, my hopes were high driving into Peoria that day. But Banuelos looks worn out, pitching 90-92 mph, touching 93 a couple times. I agree with what Keith Law wrote in his report, saying: "the only concern I'd have off this look was that hitters did square up his fastball when he came toward the middle of the zone, as the pitch has some downhill plane but not much lateral movement."While this is a far cry from the sort of enthusiasm I would like to see about Banuelos (whom I would agree is the best Yankees pitching prospect), it is fair praise nonetheless - particularly as it pertains to his ability to handle the rigors of a Major League season. You can read the full article here, and I would recommend checking out his other entries, as well.
Other than the straight, somewhat mediocre fastball, there really is a lot to like about Banuelos. Despite the results, his curveball is actually really good, better than advertised. It had good, hard break, and that day was even better than his highly acclaimed change, which was good, mind you, but more average-to-plus than the 65 pitch that has been hyped elsewhere. He also is a really strong southpaw given his slight build, and should have no problem handling big innings jumps each of the next two seasons. I'm not sure the velocity reports are true, or at least sustainable, but it doesn't mean he's not still the best of the Yankees pitching prospects.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Bryan Smith is a regular contributor for Fangraphs, focusing mainly on prospects. Smith spent four days in Arizona last week to take in some AFL action, and he posted his thoughts on many of the more promising prospects at that level. This morning, he had this to say about Manny Banuelos: