After signing with the Yankees Banuelos got his first taste of American pro action in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie-Ball) playing for the Tampa Yankees. In 12 games that year, only three as a starter, he was impressive putting together a 4-1 record with a 2.57 ERA over 42 innings. His 7.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 were also impressive.
The next year he was promoted to Low-A Charleston where he cemented himself on the prospect map. In Charleston he pitched in 26 games, 19 of them starting, putting together a 9-5 record with a 2.64 ERA over 108 innings. What was more impressive was that both his strikeout and walk rates improved to 8.7 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9. He was rewarded with a very brief promotion to High-A Tampa where he threw just one perfect inning that included two strikeouts.
Last season he had a brief setback after he had to undergo apendectomy surgery. Once he returned though he picked up right where he left off. Starting only briefly in the GCL he tossed two starts over five innings and allowed just one run. The bulk of his season was spent in High-A Tampa where he dominated. Over 10 games and 44.1 innings he had a 2.23 ERA, a 12.6 K/9, and a 2.8 BB/9. He was so good it earned him an unexpected promotion to Double-A Trenton, not bad for a 19 year old. In Trenton he made three starts and at least one more in the playoffs and did so so. His ERA was 3.52 and his K/9 was 10.0, but his BB/9 rate was sort of high at 4.7, but over 15.1 innings it’s not too much to worry about.
There is a lot to like about Banuelos. Really the only knock on him was his small size, but the kid has great stuff and knows how to pitch. Thanks to a great report by Frankie Piliere we have a great scouting report on him too.
Essentially Banuelos has strong command and a consistent delivery. He throws a fastball in the 93-94 mph range that can reach up to 97 mph. He also has a “true swing-and-miss” curveball and a changeup that has “dead-fish drop”. His ceiling is that of a true front of the rotation starter. He may very well be the best of the Killer B’s.
Banuelos is likely to start the 2011 season in the Double-A Trenton rotation, but a trip to the Bronx is not out of the question. Realistically though they will resist very hard the urge to rush him especially considering he’s still only 20 years old. He could be a September call-up at best. If he’s seen before that it’s possible that the Yankees will call him up as a reliever in an effort to limit his innings. If we don’t see him in the Bronx in 2011 it’ll be very likely that he has a shot to win a job out of spring training 2012.
|Rk (2 seasons)||4||1||2.49||14||5||47.0||33||13||3||16||43||1.043||6.3||0.6||3.1||8.2|
|A+ (2 seasons)||0||3||2.18||11||10||45.1||38||11||1||14||64||1.147||7.5||0.2||2.8||12.7|
|A (1 season)||9||5||2.67||25||19||108.0||88||32||4||28||104||1.074||7.3||0.3||2.3||8.7|
|AA (1 season)||0||1||3.52||3||3||15.1||15||6||2||8||17||1.500||8.8||1.2||4.7||10.0|