The Gulf Coast League is a little talked about league because they are below even Single-A, they are rookie ball and often the players are so far away from the majors that it makes little sense to discuss them. However, their season started last night and there were three players on the field for the Yankees last night that are worth mentioning: Manny Banuelos, Brett Marshall, and Gary Sanchez.
Banuelos, a 19-year-old lefty, is already one of the Yankees top pitching prospects. After having a big season for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs last season, 9-5 record, 2.67 ERA, 104 K’s and only 28 BB’s in 108 innings, Banuelos missed the first half of this season with an appendectomy. He opened his 2010 season last night in the GCL, but it won’t be long until he joins the High-A Tampa Yankees, probably when they promote Andrew Brackman to Double-A.
Marshall, a 20-year-old righty who throws in the mid-90’s, is another big prospect who came out of the 2008 draft, the one people jump all over for their failure to sign Gerrit Cole. Marshall is not quite the prospect Banuelos is, but he has a lot of potential, he’s just more raw. He was a teammate of Banuelos in Low-A Charleston last season where in 17 games he had a 3-6 record, a 5.56 ERA, 60 K’s and 37 BB’s in 87.1 innings. It’s likely that he’ll receive a promotion soon, but he could have a stop in Charleston before he goes to the Tampa Yankees as he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and the Yankees will move more slowly with him.
Finally there is Sanchez. In a farm system over flowing with catching prospects Sanchez is perhaps the best of them all, better than Jesus Montero, better than Austin Romine, and even better than J.R. Murphy. He’s still just 17-years-old and played in his first ever professional game last night and what a debut it was. He went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and a base hit.
The Yankees minor league system was ranked rather low this season after they dealt away many prospects in the Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez deals. After this past week though things are looking up. Not only have these three finally come on the scene, but last week I wrote a story about how towering right handed pitching prospects Brackman and Dellin Betances have come back on the scene.
So between these returning players and the amateur draft last week, the Yankees farm system looks entirely different than it did a month ago and there are things to be excited about again. Hell, even Jesus Montero is hitting .351 with eight extra-base hits in the past 10 days.