With Montero Gone, the Banuelos Hype Machine Begins

On Wednesday, Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com released his 2012 Top 100 Prospects. The Yankees had four players land on the list, Manny Banuelos at 13, Dellin Betances at 41, Gary Sanchez at 53, and Mason Williams at 73. It was no guarantee that we’d see Sanchez or Williams on such a list, but what surprised me most is the aggressive Manny Banuelos ranking.

Courtesy of Christopher Pasatieri

With Montero out, Banuelos is clearly the best prospect in the Yankee farm system. A left handed 20 year old pitcher with low to mid 90’s heat, possible plus changeup and curveball, and with solid numbers in AA and AAA is nothing to scoff at. Despite this, there are a lot of factors that must go right for Banuelos to develop on the level he’s been hyped. Where scouts demand that he simply needs more consistency, they also say he needs to take steps forward with his breaking pitches and cutter, drastically improve the command, and add velocity to his fastball. Though I believe Banuelos could accomplish all these things, assuming a 20 year old will improve every facet of their game is a large order.

I have faith in Banuelos, but the MLB.com prospects list did the unthinkable Wednesday, they ranked the current Yankee number one prospect ahead of the former number one prospect. They’ve since shifted the placement, ranking Jesus Montero 12th and Manny Banuelos 13th. In my opinion, it makes little difference. Comparing Montero, a major league ready and possible middle of the lineup star, to a 20 year old with plenty to work on before the majors, is far too aggressive. Where Montero’s ceiling is competing perennially for the batting title, Banuelos is a tier lower, aiming to become a number two or three starter. The gap between players is far from the space between 12 and 13.

It’s exciting to see your favorite prospect atop prospect rankings. With top 100 list season approaching, this is a reminder to stay realistic. Especially with the New York media surrounding young players, we are bound to read hype. I’m as thrilled about Banuelos as any fan, but no amount of hype will replace the player we lost in Montero.

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

About Michael Eder

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

23 thoughts on “With Montero Gone, the Banuelos Hype Machine Begins

  1. here we have a perfect example of why i both love and hate all the access we as fans now have about up and coming prospects…I love to be able to read about these guys and get excited, but that excitement gets tempered by the reality that most prospects dont turn out the way we think they will. I am fighting myself not to get too excited over this guy the way i did hughes, joba, brackman, ect….

    totally agree that the ranking was very aggressive for a guy that still cant take a legal drink, but it is fun to get a little excited about him as long as i dont let it turn into a love affair like it did with joba

  2. You should retitle this blog entry “With Montero Gone, What Old DH Who Can’t Play The Field Anymore Will The Yanks Mistakenly Sign And Overpay For?” haha no joke.

    Raul Ibanez, another old man who can’t play the field anymore besides Damon and Matsui who’s older than both, is being tied to the Yankees DH.

    Hopefully the Yankees will pass on him, Damon, and Matsui.

    I don’t want the Yanks to sign a player who will leave the Yanks short a fielder on the bench in games an everyday player or Jones starts at DH. Ibanez and Matsui can’t run either.

    I call for a Chris Dickerson/Andruw Jones platoon at DH and the #9 slot.

    Dickerson bats lefthanded, turns only 30 on April 10, is .270/.355/.415 vs. RHP in 490 career PA, and would cost less than Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui. A small sample and his SLG isn’t DH-caliber, but he has posted BA and OBP I doubt Ibanez, Damon, Matsui, and certainly 29-year old strikeout machine who can’t play the field Jorge Vasquez will post in 2012.

    Dickerson can play the field unlike Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui, and even if any or all of them could still play the field Dickerson is a younger, faster, overall better fielder with a stronger arm than any of them. He’s certainly faster than Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui. He has stolen base speed/ability Damon has and Ibanez and Matsui don’t have and can play all three outfield positions. The Yanks have Dickerson under control, too.

    The Yanks should start Dickerson vs. RHP, Jones vs. LHP and give them April and May. If they need to be replaced, then so be it. The Yanks would have June and July to get someone. Maybe one of them holds up his end, ideally/preferably Dickerson since the Yanks would face more RHP than LHP. If Jones doesn’t hold up his end, simply start another righthanded hitter in his place at DH vs.LHP or just make A-Rod the DH vs.LHP and those games will be part of his break-from-the field games. If Dickerson doesn’t hold up his end, then (try to) get a lefthanded bat or give Nunez a looksee in the #9 slot where whoever he spells in the field is the DH e.g. if he starts at 3B, A-Rod is the DH.

    I see this platoon DH as a total low-risk, high-reward move especially if it produces a slashline and HR-RBI around the same as or better than any two or all three among Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui.

    By going with Dickerson/Jones at DH and the #9 slot to start 2012, the Yanks could bide their time with who to get as the permanent primary DH if they don’t see this platoon as that while seeing if it could be. It’s a stopgap and an audition. They don’t have to trade anyone including a pitcher for a DH and they’re starting Jones at DH vs. LHP anyway, no? So it’s really just giving Dickerson a chance. The guy hasn’t displayed much pop so far but he did have a nice first two seasons as a backup player in terms of HR/PA and I love his .413 and .370 OBPs those seasons. And again, at least he could play the field. He could come in place of Swisher (or either of the other two starting outfielders if one of them was removed for a pinch-hitter) late in close games where Jones starts at DH, something Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui c/w/should not do. The Yanks, any team, needs more BA and OBP than SLG out of the #9 slot, and the Yanks have plenty of power in the everyday lineup save Gardner and Jeter, but who’s to say Jeter couldn’t go back to smacking 12-15 HR? I think he’ll pop 10-11 tops this season – we’ll see. How great would it be if Gardner smacked 12-15?

    Another option would be to platoon Brandon Laird with Jones and start Laird at 3B twice a week so A-Rod gets a rest in the field. A-Rod could rest one of those games and DH the other some weeks, start at DH both days other weeks. Laird would cost only the rookie minimum.

  3. The Yanks should NOT trade Hughes or a top prospect for Billy Butler, a career DH, or any DH period.

    A Dickerson/Jones DH platoon with everyday players getting starts at DH and Nunez spelling Cano, Jeter, and A-Rod in the field in games they DH wouldn’t kill the Yanks, it really wouldn’t.

    ‘Say Ibanez, Damon, or Matsui is signed. If he falls to injury, Dickerson would be the most likely callup, Justin Maxwell or Brandon Laird if not him (if I had to guess), unless the Yanks wanted an extra pitcher in the bullpen, so it could be postponing the inevitable that someone other than the old DH will be on the team.

  4. Banuelos? Don’t you mean the second coming of Johan Santana?? Hype machine in full effect!

  5. I’ve actually seen several different sites (including MLB) give Banuelos high rankings

    Fox’s scouting has him as there #9
    Scoutingbook.com has him as #16 and still the 2nd best southpaw
    Another site (name escapes me) has him as one of their 6 best starting pitching prospects

    the lowest I’ve seen him ranked so far is #26.

    With Banuelos, I think that despite the perceived act of professional sites and likewise “overrating” him, I think every fan and wannabe scout might actually underrate him by just as great a margin.

    Lefties that throw low-mid 90’s is pretty damn good so I don’t see why saying “he needs more velocity” even needs to be in the conversation, the guy throws just as hard, if not harder than many SP in the league right now that can be considered #3 caliber and above.

    I do understand the gripe about command, but considering this is a new occurrence for Banuelos it’s not even improbable to think that he’ll regain his control (which from what I’ve found online most of his problems stem from nibbling at the strike zone than actual lack of command…we actually saw a brief example of this in his ST games last year)

    I do agree with the breaking ball discussion, but Banuelos arm angle and delivery seems better suited to learning and mastering a slider or a cutter rather than the curve.

    My feelings are the command and a decision on the breaking ball are the only two issues that keep Man-Ban from being a potential top of the rotation starter (top rotation in this sense is a 1 or 2).

  6. I’m as thrilled about Banuelos as any fan, but no amount of hype will replace the player we lost in Montero.

    What do you mean lost in Montero? Did we misplace him somehow?

    We didn’t lose Montero. We exchanged him for an equally valuable asset that was a better fit for the current needs of the team.

  7. If montero was even average at the catching position he’d rank a lot higher. Maybe the issue isn’t manny being #13 so much as Montero being #12. Manny is only 20 and probably a yr away from his debut, walked a few to manny last year but has 3 plus offerings from the left side.

  8. Nice to point out the existance of the Yankee hype machine.

    In the wake of passing on ‘Austin Jackson-he had no power’ and ‘Jesus Montero-he can’t catch’ can I jump in with a prediction on ‘Manny Banuelos-can’t keep the weight down’?

    Ya know so when the Yankees dump him I can claim to be the first in. Or maybe because I don’ buy the hype to begin with. Or maybe it gets boring listening to how good these guys are gonna be then we get the disclaimer once their dumped.

    Hype machine.

  9. Banuelos is a top-shelf prospect. With radar readings so readily available and so-often exaggerated, pitchers like Banuelos get over-looked a bit. Yankees, Sox, Mets prospects are generally over-hype- guys like Brackman and Betances get overblown because they’re tall and they throw hard (in reality Betances maybe averages 1 MPH more on his fastball than Banuelos anyway).

    Banuelos does throw hard. He’s twenty years old and his fastball sits comfortably in the 89-92 MPH (on calibrated guns)and he can reach back for 93 (even 94) MPH when he’s on. What makes him a better prospect than harder throwers (keyword is throwers) is his simple, repeatable mechanics, advanced command, cool demeanor and (of course) his left-handedness. If you look at the pitching prospects that “fail” or end up in the bullpen, it generally isn’t their fastball velocity that kills them– it’s their command/control, approach/pitching savvy, work ethic and/or nerve. Banuelos can throw 3 pitches for quality strikes and is an efficient pitcher. Will big leaguer’s hit him? Of course– they pretty much hit everyone. If he can adjust, keep his heater away from the happy zone and work both sides of the plate with his solid change and curve, he’ll pan-out as a rock-solid AL mid-rotation starter.