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.

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

  1. suzanne&johns love child

    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. Duh Innings

    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.

    • suzanne&johns love child

      with the available options, unless cashman is working on a ninja attack, i totally agree that they should leave the spot vacant. at least until july 31st no reason to panic and bring in an aging player. Without a dh they still have a top five offense

    • roadrider

      Dickerson is not much less of a K machine than Vazquez. His career K-rate is 26.1% (pretty even platoon split too) and at age 29 he’s yet to show he can be a major-league regular. As the LHB in the DH platoon you’re proposing he’d get roughly 75% of the AB and he’d probably be exposed pretty quickly.

      I’m not arguing in favor of any of the has-beens but a never-was is not the solution either. I think a trade will be made before or during ST.

      Also, the idea of Jeter and Gardner putting up double-digit HR numbers is delusional.

  3. Duh Innings

    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. Michael P.

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

    • You’re selling him short, his talent only mirrors that of Babe Ruth.

      • SDM

        No No no, he’s a chimera of young Johan, Pedro, and Babe Ruth

        • Michael P.

          I heard from a very reputable source that Banuelos will be the righty masher in the platoon DH role.

      • entonces

        You talk like the MiLB prospect list is drawn up by the Yankee front office. The scouts who appraise minor league talent think highly of Banuelos — rating him the second best lefty in the ninors, and you really haven’t offered anything to undermine that assessment. Some of your posts read like they come out of larry Luccino’s press office. What in the world does Baneulos’ ranking by MiLB have to do with “hype?”

        • You got me, I’m secretly Larry Lucchino.

  5. SDM

    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).

    • Were you referring to this?
      http://baseballnewshound.com/?p=2151

      The truth behind the “he needs more velocity” thing is that he has shown signs of sitting mid 90′s, and that is what scouts expect him to be throwing once he matures. His current velocity is good, but unlike lefties that get away with low 90′s stuff, Cliff Lee for example, Banuelos has little movement on his fastball.

      The breaking ball discussion is interesting, because when he’s on, his changeup and curveball are plus pitches. Its a matter of replicating his delivery. Many scouts expect him to take steps with a cutter this season.

      • SDM

        I’m not worried about the change, the guy is so confidant in that pitch he’ll throw to other lefties and back to back, but his curve looks more like slow loopy slider (not unlike CC’s rarely used curve ball honestly) which is why I think he’d have a better feel for it than the curve.

  6. roadrider

    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. RYan

    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.

    • bpdelia

      Honestly if montero was an ml average catcher he ranks right behind Harper ahead of trout. If montero was an average catcher he would be an untouchable once in a lifetime prospect. People compare him to Edgar but Edgar was real athletic and could field. Ba had him as a plus defender coming up. He just got hurt. Aside from frank Thomas i think montero. Is an unique situation. I cant remember another elite bat prospect with literally zero future with the glove. Adam Dunn maybe?

      On banuelos the command issue was out of the blue and may just be that they had him working on the change and curve results be damned. I am very high on him. He looks like a bulldog and has by all accounts elite work ethic and makeup. Hes gonna be successful

  8. dirtywater

    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.

    • Good to hear from our Boston readers.

    • entonces

      Back to rat-infested Fenway for you. If you want to troll on a Yankee site hide your identity as a Sux fan with a better handle than “dirty water.”

      • I somewhat agree with him. You’d be hard pressed to find a baseball organization as big as the Yankees OR Red Sox without major hype over players. Just look at Jose Iglesias last year compared to today, the guy was a product of the same type of aggressive rankings.

        Now if you look at Austin Jackson, at the point he was traded I remember the hype was that he could develop power and become Carl Crawford. That seems ridiculous now. Perhaps because he’s played for a few years, but also because he’s on the Tigers.

        Is it a coincidence that Montero moves down from a top 5 player to now a player in the teens in some of these rankings? Perhaps its his minor league numbers, but his major league numbers should have helped at least maintain his prospect level. Now this list has Montero ranked right along side Banuelos, who had a mediocre season at best.

        Again, Banuelos could very well surprise me and project as a number 1 after this season, but he’s too far away compared to a player like Montero. Yankee fans should realize as well as Red Sox fans, that their market makes it tough to realistically gauge a prospect’s ceiling and upside compared to smaller market prospects.

  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.

    • T.O. Chris

      Right now his command isn’t advanced. Since his increase in velocity he hasn’t shown advanced control or command, which is why he is walking nearly 5 batters per 9 innings. He is going to have to show this year that he can make improvements in his command and control by leaps and bounds to still be lauded with such claims.

      Right now he grades out as a good velocity lefty, with bad command, and no plus pitches. Though his change certainly could become a plus pitch with a little more work.

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