Player: Manny Banuelos
Date of Scouting Report: 1/21/16
|Mike McGinnis | Getty|
Former top prospect in the Yankees system is looking to capitalize on momentum that brought him to the majors the previous year. Injuries have always been a concern for Banuelos, who has only eclipsed the 100 inning plateau three times in his career (including last year). In 16 starts with Gwinnett in 2015, he maintained a 2.33 ERA with a 3.46 FIP, 7.3 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, and 0.21 HR/9. His efforts earned a promotion and while he started strong, he ended the year struggling and hurt. Had surgery to deal with some bone spurs that ended his 2015 season.
For more on Banuelos, here’s my profile on Banuelos from About.com.
Offensive Observations and Grades
Very little information. 20 career plate appearances with 7 in the majors. Was highly successful in sacrifice bunt opportunities (4-for-4). Swinging Strike and Strike Looking percentages were slightly higher than the league norm, but certainly not awful. Hitless in the majors, he was 2-for-12 in the minors with 8 K’s. One extra base, a double, and he only had one successful sacrifice bunt there.
Grades from a 20-80 Scale…Ungraded
Pitching Observations and Grades
(*sample size issues inherent in the following paragraphs) Once capable of 98 mph heat before Tommy John, Banuelos now comfortably sits in the 89 mph range with a max in 2015 of 92.3 mph. There were reports he was hitting 94 mph with Gwinnett, but minor league guns are notoriously unreliable. He’s basically scrapped his sinker and instead uses an 80 mph changeup a little less than a quarter of the time. Also utilizes a 83 mph slider that he can change speeds on depending on the circumstance. His fourth pitch is a 75 mph curveball that too often doesn’t have much drop to it, but when it’s on, it flashes out pitch potential.
Overall, he works best when he change speeds and out-thinks the hitter versus depending on stuff to get hitters out. His changeup was his best pitch to prompt a swinging strike last season, but his fastball is really the only pitch he spotted in the strikezone with any regularity. Changeup also is a double edge sword as it led to whiffs and an ungodly amount (48%) of line drives. As line drives turn into hits at a high rate, hitters teed off his change when it didn’t flutter out of the zone. His mechanics are pretty smooth despite all of the injuries.
Grades from a 20-80 Scale…Velocity (45), Movement (50), Control (45)
Potential Grades…Velocity (50), Movement (60), Control (55)
Individual Pitch Grades…Fastball (50), Changeup (55), Curveball (50), Slider (45)
Potential Individual Pitch Grades…Fastball (55), Changeup (65), Curveball (60), Slider (55)
Other Grades…Holding Runners (65), Speed to the Plate (50)
Defensive Observations and Grades
Impossible to grade right now.
PECOTA has not been updated and probably won’t be until March. With that in mind, their long-term forecasts have trended away from actual results as they still expect him to be a strikeout pitcher. In fact, their 2016 projection included this unrealistic number – 207 strikeouts. I imagine when they re-run the model this spring, the numbers will see a significant decline toward something closer to Marcel (1.39 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7.7 K/9). I’d argue that’s still very optimistic considering the last time Banuelos posted a 2.4 K/BB rate or better was 2010. Steamer projects similar rates, though a more reasonable 1.9 K/BB. I think that’s closer to the pitcher Banuelos is. There remains upside here and if Roger McDowell and company can get him to spot his pitches with a higher degree of frequency, he could develop into a decent #4 who might not embarrass you if pressed to start a playoff game, but will likely still maintain a FIP trending over 4.00. A reasonable baseline might be Ryan Vogelsong‘s 2015 – 3.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 1.13 HR/9, 4.53 FIP. In his prime, if healthy, Banuelos could certainly progress beyond that, but probably not very far.
Banuelos might benefit from a move to the bullpen. Like many lefthanders, he has shown a platoon advantage historically against lefthanders. Fringe lefties are often converted into LOOGYs. He doesn’t fit the typical hard-throwing relief pitcher profile that’s all the rage, but neither did Eric O’Flaherty. But he’ll need to show more consistency with a breaking pitch (likely his curve) to do so.
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