The greatest pitching prospect whom Mariano Rivera had ever seen was 1991 first overall pick Brien Taylor. Taylor and Rivera were teammates for Class A Fort Lauderdale in 1992.The article, like most we've seen this spring, is filled with praise for Banuelos, including a few quotes from Jorge and Jeter.
In the nearly two decades since then, Rivera has watched prospects come and go, but he has never seen one better than Taylor.
The greatest closer in the game thinks 19-year-old lefty Manny Banuelos is the greatest pitching prospect he has ever seen.
"I would say so," Rivera said during a conversation with ESPNNewYork.com in which he revisited Taylor's devastating skills and Banuelos' combination of ability and composure.
"I like everything about him," Rivera said of Banuelos. "The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitches, he has the ability to do that."
Rivera has begun to advise Banuelos. Rivera has told "little Manny" to not listen to all the hype. The clutter will only cloud his chances.
"'Stay humble, stay within yourself, God will take care of the rest,'" Rivera said he has told Banuelos. "You don't try to put that junk in your mind because that will hurt you."
Banuelos, who is from Monterrey, Mexico, speaks decent English. He understands what Rivera's compliment means. When it is relayed to him that Rivera has said he is the best prospect he has ever seen, Banuelos smiled sheepishly.
"Mo said that, 'Thank you, Mo,'" Banuelos said.
The left-hander struck out two more yesterday in two scoreless innings of work. He now had 8 K's over 5 innings this spring, while allowed just a walk and three hits.