With rumors of a move to Triple-A shaking things up, Manny Banuelos fights to keep his head focused…
Banuelos Makes Good First Impression
Coming off the debut, Banuelos was happy to get the first start out of the way and didn't notice the Yankee hierarchy on hand.
"The first hitter, it calmed my nerves to strike him out. I feel good, I tried to get outs and I feel comfortable. My command pitching away, it was fine. I pitched like I do every time. I don't worry about who's behind the catcher," Banuelos explained in the clubhouse to the media.
That mental focus on his target is why he's rocketed up the system, and Tuesday night he pleased his veteran manager, Dave Miley.
"He threw the ball well for his first Triple-A start." Miley proclaimed. "That's a very formidable lineup, so I'm very happy with the job he did."
He sat between 90-93 mph all game, sizzling past opposing hitters for 17 swing and misses on the night. Incorporated with the fastball is a knockout curveball and a fade changeup, but when he eyed the finish line, Banuelos went to his bread and butter to complete the outing, a 93 mph heater blown past a Lehigh Valley hitter to end a potential game-opening rally. It's that one moment that really stuck out to his new manager.
"That out in the fifth [runners at 2nd and 3rd in a 2-2 game] with a right-handed hitter and he got the strikeout," Miley said. "That could have been a big change. That's a good lineup over there. He went out and gave us a chance to win."
One of the few blips on the outing was a home run given up the Phillies top prospect, Domonic Brown. The lanky, smooth left-handed hitter took Banuelos deep in the third inning, but he took it in stride and beared down.
"I never faced him before, he's a really good hitter," Banuelos said. "I tried to read his swings. After that [home run] I settled down and locked in."
His new catcher, Jesus Montero, who is no stranger to the attention of being a top prospect in the Yankee system, took the time to let his new teammate know he's not alone.
"It's not easy," Montero opined. "You just got to have fun out there. I told him to relax and throw the ball hard. He did a really good job today."
Montero, who's caught Banuelos before in Spring Training, was impressed by the outing.
"He commanded the fastball good, he had a good sinker," Montero continued. "He threw strikes more with the changeup and curveball, which is very important," Montero explained.
Banuelos is one step away from the big leagues now that he's in Scranton, but GM Brian Cashman believes there's more still left to be accomplished in Triple-A before the next level.
"Consistency. Every level you go up, it speeds up on you," Cashman said. "There's a lot to learn at this level that they didn't see at Double-A level, and then obviously there's more at the major league level. It takes time. We're going to try and give them as many opportunities as we can, so when they get to New York, they're as much a finished product as possible."
Banuelos, who's now thrown 100.1 innings [95.1 in Double-A Trenton], with 100 hits, 102 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA, is eagerly waiting a shot at the big leagues.
"I hope so!" Banuelos enthusiastically stated. "If I get the call, I'll be really excited."
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