Oh Manny…

Too soon.

There was never any doubt from the second that Manny Banuelos took the Waterfront Park mound for the first time as a 19-year-old on August 23, 2010 that he was a supremely talented southpaw who would move through the Yankees system quickly.  Granted, the line that night wasn’t anything to get excited about (5.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 6 K), but the stuff was.

And the stuff still is exciting to watch.  Always has been, likely always will be.  But the part about moving quickly?  In my opinion, he was promoted too soon.

He’s now 20 years old, won’t be 21 until March of 2012.  But it even isn’t that.  There’s just so much to work on.  He hasn’t progressed, again in my opinion, this season.  Hasn’t regressed (despite a 2-5 record and 4.99 ERA in his last 10 starts and 1.53 WHIP on the season) but hasn’t progressed either.  And, in theory, call-ups should be made on progression in a case like Banuelos’.

He is very, very good, but there is very, very much that still needs to be worked on.  Two things that stand out are fastball command and pitch efficiency, which likely go hand in hand.

Banuelos made 20 starts and lasted just 95 1/3 innings.  That’s a little more than five innings per start, and given that he was kept on a pitch count of 95-100 and not any sort of innings count, well…he needs to go longer than that in a start in Double-A, no less Triple-A or even in the big leagues.  The Monterrey, Mexico native also walked at least one batter in each of those 20 starts, issuing three or more free passes in 11 of them.

Despite a hot start in which he held a 2.12 ERA through his first ten outings, Banuelos seemed to lose his way in the second half his tenure with the Thunder.  He posted ERA’s of 5.20 and 4.15 in June and July, respectively, and the opposition was batting .292 against him during that span.  After not having allowed a home run in April and May, he gave up seven between June and July.

Perhaps the opposition had figured him out.  And not just in the second half of the season…but in the second time around the order, too.  Banuelos’ ERA in the first, second and third innings were 3.15, 1.80 and 2.25.  In the fourth, fifth and sixth?  4.82, 5.93, 6.75.  In 20 starts, he pitched into sixth three times and the seventh just once.

So, especially now, there was a lot he needed to figure out.  Given that he has just 311 minor league innings under his belt, that’s not to be unexpected.  But he’ll get to do it in Scranton instead, and well…good for him.  Banuelos was a nice kid who always had a smile and “what’s up” for everyone and it’s hard not to pull for him. 

But given the events of the past two months…and it seems a little surprising that its fans at PNC Field and not Waterfront Park that will be getting a chance to do just that.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

12 Responses to “Oh Manny…”

  1. Peter Lacock Says:

    I’d have to agree Mike. His performance certainly didn’t scream promotion. There must be some other plan at work here. Personally I had no expectations for Manny (or Betances) this year other than building up innings. I guess it doesn’t matter where he gets them.

    Whomever had 8-2-11 in the pool wins. I had April 2012.

    Betances can’t be far behind, can he? I don’t look at stats much but it seems like he’s been better than Manny. Plus he’s older.

  2. Dealin Dellin Says:

    Thoughtful piece, Mike.

    The Yankees will need a lefty out of the bullpen. Looks like it’ll be Manny, unless Marte actually makes it back or they can swipe an arm off waivers. Maybe they’d also like Manny to work with Aldred. I don’t think this means he gets rushed to the majors, by the way. A stint down the stretch & even if they 40-man him (I think all other lefty BP help options would have to run dry before that happened) doesn’t mean he isn’t back down next year to build innings.

  3. whiteycat Says:

    I am in complete agreement with you, Mike. Another case of too much, too soon. His record does not merit a promotion.

    The Red Sox did the same thing years ago with Jin Ho Cho. They whisked him through the system with speedy promotions. The result … he flamed out so fast that no one even noticed.

  4. Dealin Dellin Says:

    Manny won’t flame out. He’s got a low maintenance delivery and is very compact. I don’t think the Yankees are going to slide him into the 2012 rotation out of ST, either.

    It’s possible that Cashman has been given a grace period by the Stein Bros. and Levine, or a window where the prospects have to show some kind of impact (would just be like them to totally misunderstand the whole point of development), so Manny had to be jumped to show some outward sign of progress.

    Just as likely, though, is the fact that we need a lefty out of the bullpen here & it’s not going to harm Manny to fill that role for the present push of winning a division. He’ll be back to uninterrupted development soon enough.

    Also, it really may benefit him to work with Aldred, who did wonders with Joba’s delivery the one and only time he was under his guidance. Manny has smoother mechanics to begin with, & Aldred is a fellow left-handed pitcher. Manny may quantum jump under a left-hander in getting better command of his fastball & learn to throw inside more consistently.

    Maybe you could find out, Mike, if they want him to work specifically with Aldred? Thanks.

  5. thunderfangabe Says:

    Phelps in AA is also a lefty.

  6. thunderfangabe Says:

    tommy phelps the PC

  7. YankeesVine » Blog Archive » What Manny Banuelos’ Promotion Means For Yankees Says:

    […] I’m very surprised (and not the only one) that they’re promoting the 20-year-old southpaw. Between him and Dellin Betances, another […]

  8. Dealin Dellin Says:

    Thanks, didn’t realize Phelps had also been left-handed.

    I think Aldred though is the organization’s fix-it guru. He put Joba on track delivery wise & Manny has cleaner mechanics than Joba & his arm snapping type of motion they fret over for the last few years, Aldred was really the guy that straightened Joba out & many of us wish they had shipped Chamberlain back to him, because Eiland was basically useless in helping him.

    It will be interesting to see if Aldred can help Manny command the heater better. I really think it’s just a matter of time for him to locate better, still tryiing to deal with the uptick in velo.

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