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.
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.