It’s about time to take a look at how the Yankees’ top pitching prospects, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman, have performed so far this season. All 3 guys are coming off strong 2010 seasons, and are looking to sustain that momentum and continue to improve their prospect statuses.
Manny Banuelos: Despite being slowed by blister problems early in the season, Banuelos has largely picked up where he left off in 2010. Through 7 starts, Banuelos has pitched 32 innings (7 starts), with a 2.29 ERA and a 3.25 FIP. His strikeout rate so far of 7.59 k/9 is solid but not earthshattering, and he is walking a few more batters than he usually does (4.50 per 9). His BABIP against is .300, which doesn’t suggest any abnormal luck thus far. The organization appears to be taking a cautious approach with Manny’s innings, as he is currently averaging under 5 innings per start. Banuelos went 6 innings in his most recent start, evidence that perhaps the organization is taking the restraints off little by little, and letting him pitch deeper into games. Overall it’s a very solid beginning to the season for the 20 year-old lefty, though I’m sure many expect Banuelos to have a higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate than he currently does. By the end of the season, he likely will.
Dellin Betances: Like his Trenton rotation-mate, Betances has come out of the gate firing in 2011. In just 5 starts (also missing time due to blisters) Betances has thrown 23 2/3 innings, with 9.13 k/9 and 4.18 bb/9, good for a 0.76 ERA and a 3.24 FIP. Dellin’s walk rate is significantly higher than it was in 2010 (around 2), so it seems that his control may have regressed somewhat. Regardless, with his strikeout stuff, Betances can still succeed with a high walk rate. With Betances, health is always the big question, but we saw in 2010 what he can do with a healthy season. Overall, Betances is more or less living up to expectations this season, and I expect the strong performance to continue.
Andrew Brackman: While Betances and Banuelos are off to strong starts, Andrew Brackman has had it rough in the early going. Through 7 starts in AAA, Brackman has an ugly 6.69 ERA (6.00 FIP). Control has been a problem so far (6.17 bb/9), and he hasn’t been getting that many strikeouts (6.17 k/9). Anytime a player’s walk rate is equal to his strikeout rate, he’s probably not having a good season. These results are disappointing given Brackman’s strong 2010, which represented a major step forward. It’s possible that Brackman is getting a little bad luck (.330 BABIP), but his rate stats are evidence of the fact that he simply is not pitching well. There’s certainly plenty of time to turn things around, but this is definitely a step back for Brackman. Prior to the seaosn, one would have considered Brackman a good bet to get called up in 2011 due to his spot on the 40-man roster. This no longer looks like an imminent possibility, though I imagine he will see the Bronx in September if he is not promoted earlier. If Brackman continues to struggle, the Yankees might consider putting in the bullpen, but I imagine that would not happen for a while.
Of the Yankees’ big 3 so far, it is evident that 2 are pitching up to expectations, while Brackman still has some work to do. It’s still early in the season so obviously a lot can change, but it’s exciting to see Betances and Banuelos get off to strong starts.
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