[image title="andrew-brackman-540x341" size="full" id="23745" align="center" linkto="full" ]The high-ceiling trio of Dellin Betances, Manuel Banuelos, and Andrew Brackman are all on the cusp of the major leagues. Although they probably do not compare with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy in terms of value (the Big Three were way ahead in terms of being better prospects), they do find themselves in a similarly comparable position. Usually when we compare prospects, we’re comparing apples an oranges. Who’s better, the above average-looking catcher in Double-A or the 17 year-old potential all-star in rookie ball? So much separates those players that there really isn’t much to argue. They all started the season in A ball and finished it in Double-A, and are all high-ceiling starting pitchers. I also think that there is an argument out there for each one being the best.
So, who’s the best Killer B? Back in September when I ranked them, I listed Manuel Banuelos as #1, Andrew Brackman as #2, and Dellin Betances as #3. I see no reason to change those rankings now.
I believe that Manuel Banuelos is the best Killer B for a number of reasons. First off, he does not carry the serious injury concerns of Dellin Betances and to a lesser extent Andrew Brackman. He missed half a season with a non-baseball related injury, but has received great comments from several scouts about having a smooth, effortless delivery. He may be small (a foot shorter than Brackman!), but that concerns more more down the line, not immediately. Just a year ago he was considered a top prospect because he threw great secondary pitches and was universally recognized as having poise and pitchability beyond his years. Take that, and realize that all of the sudden he’s not throwing 90-91, but 93-95 from the left side. He’s a safer prospect than people realize (unlike the other two Killer Bs) yet has tons of upside.
I ranked Andrew Brackman second, and below several other Yankee prospects, for a lot of reasons. First off, he’s getting to be a bit old. While I don’t blame Brackman – he had an unorthodox path to the majors – it does raise concerns about his upside. I’m not sure how much more development we can expect out of him. That said, its not like Brackman is lacking in physical tools. The man throws in the mid-90s on a pretty nasty downward plane, and tops it off with one of the best curveballs around. He’s 6’10″ and athletic, and even managed to flash pretty good control last season. But he’s far from a safe product. While he was pretty good in the second half of last season, he could very well lapse into the funk that he could not get out of in 2009. Arm surgery explains some of it, but not all of it. I guess I just have trouble seeing Brackman consistently bring it in the majors, despite the package he brings. He’s on track to definitely be some kind of major league pitcher, but there is a lot of variance in how good he could end up being.
To me, Dellin Betances is a no-brainer at last place. Its not for lack of ability – I ranked Betances #1 ahead of both of them in my all-ceiling ranking. Dellin came back from surgery to throw like the absolute monster he could be – 95-96 with lots of movement and awesome secondary pitches. He’s not just a tall guy, but a really strong, built man, and he has finally matured into that body. The guy can chainsaw through hitters. A lot of people have ranked him #2 in the system after Montero. But come on! Dellin Betances is the Rich Harden of minor leaguers. He’s got a terrible health record, having only stayed healthy for one full season in his career. I’d give him more credit had his 2010 season been a 130+, healthy season, but he didn’t even pitch a full season this year. I’ve learned from being burned so many times by Betances over the years. I’m not buying yet, though I acknowledge the big step forward he made in 2010 by finally putting it all together.
But that’s my opinion. What do you guys thing?
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