Background and Intangibles
Signed out of Mexico in 2008, Manny Banuelos made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League that summer, pitching well for the GCL Yankees and emerging as a sleeper to watch. He followed that up with a strong 2009 season in the South Atlantic League, then continued pitching well in 2010, although his season didn't get started until June due to a spring appendectomy. He was the youngest and one of the most impressive pitchers in the Arizona Fall League. He has excellent mound presence and a mature demeanor, especially given his age, earning high marks for his makeup.
Physicality, Health, and Tools
Banuelos is a 5-10, 155 pound left-handed hitter and thrower, born March 13, 1991. He isn't the best athlete in the world, but he generates excellent velocity for a pitcher his size, throwing 90-94 MPH and sometimes higher. His mechanics are smooth, clean, and easy, and scouts have a hard time figuring out how he throws so hard with so little apparent effort. He threw just 87-92 MPH in past seasons, so the velocity boost last year was very noticeable. Banuelos mixes the heater with a very good changeup and an improving curveball, which was below average in '09 but rated as at least solid last year and looked plus to me when I saw him in Arizona. His control is very good-to-excellent. Although the appendicitis last year is obviously not going to recur, he did suffer from a "tired arm" in 2009, and some scouts wonder about his durability given his size. The Yankees believe that he has a good shot at staying healthy due to his delivery.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Every so often, Sickels tosses together a 'prospect smackdown,' in which he compares two players on the bases of background and intangibles; physicality, healthy, and tools; performance; and projectability. The players that he compares normally have something more specific in common than the standard positional comparison. On Friday, Sickels compared Banuelos to Martin Perez - both are smallish, thin southpaws who have been doubted at times due to their stature. I will re-post some of Sickels' thoughts on Banuelos here, but you should read the entire smackdown over at Minor League Ball.