Back in Spring Training 2011, all the talk in the Yankees’ Tampa, Fla., camp was the progress of Manny Banuelos, a hard-throwing young lefty, and Dellin Betances, a native of Brooklyn who had overcome injury and inconsistency.
That spring, Banuelos was impressive in Grapefruit League games against big-league competition. Betances, coming off his best season, seemed on track to possibly help the Yankees b y 2012.
“We’re pleased with the progress of both Manny and Dellin,’’ said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
Banuelos went on to go 6-7, 3.75 in 27 starts with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton in 2011, with a strikeout/walk ratio of 125-71. Betances was 4-9, 3.70 in 25 starts with Trenton and Scranton, but displayed solid command with a 142-70 strikeout/walk ratio and earned a September call-up.
Then disaster struck both. Banuelos made just six starts this past season, sidetracked in May by a sore elbow that did not heal, leading to Tommy John Surgery being scheduled at the end of this week. Don’t look for his return until 2014.
Betances, meanwhile, undid all the progress he had made the previous two seasons, going a combined 6-9, 6.44 on 27 appearances with Trenton and Scranton. Eastern League hitters batted .319 against him and command was absent.
“I don’t know what is going on,’’ said Betances repeatedly during the season. “One start I feel comfortable with this, the next with that I’ll get it right.’’
Finally, the 6-foot-8 Betances, 24, was shut down with a few weeks to go in the Double-A season. He needs a total rebuild in both mechanics and confidence, and will start back on the road back with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. He will be watched closely.
Naturally these developments have pushed some to write both Banuelos and Betances off as far as any future with the Yankees is concerned. That, this corner feels, is quite premature.
To begin with, Banuelos is just 21. And there is no reason to feel he won’t be just as strong a prospect after Tommy John Surgery than before. If he begins helping the Yankees at 24, so be it.
Banuelos possesses all the ingredients to be a successfui big-league starter and certainly, given his eventual recovery from Tommy John, ought to be as good – if not better – than ever.
Although healthy, Betances’ future might be a bit more cloudy. It is hoped he can regain both the right physical and mental edges in the Arizona Fall League. If not, his future both with the Yankees and baseball might not last after the 2013 season.
If Betances continues to pitch ineffectively as a starter, perhaps a bullpen role is in his future. Yet, if he can’t get anyone out at the Double-A level, what else can be done.
On the other hand, it is legitimate to expect Banuelos to both recover and resume his status as a top pitching prospect.
Pitchers, in the development process, get hurt, pitch ineffectively and have ups-and-downs mentally. Are the Killer Bs a bit disappointing at present. Absolutely. Is it time to throw both out with the proverbial bath water? Absolutely not.
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