The LA Angels have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. However, they have a good mix of prospects who will help soon and some with star potential down the road. In this series, we will evaluate each of the Angels Top 30 prospects. Today, it’s LHP Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos was signed by the Yankees out of the Mexican League in 2008. He impressed quickly, pitching in the 2009 Futures All-Star game with other top prospects.
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His mix of four pitches, all of which are exceptional, earned him his first Spring Training spot in 2011. He was named the winner of the James P. Dawson Award, given to the best rookie at every Yankees’ Spring Training. Banuelos was also given high praise from legendary closer Mariano Rivera, who said he believes Banuelos was the best pitching prospect he had ever seen.
After a 2012 marred by injuries, Banuelos underwent Tommy John surgery which he spent nearly two seasons recovering from. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2015. He made his debut in The Show later that season. Banuelos threw 5.2 innings, recording seven strikeouts and allowing no runs. However, after hitting two consecutive batters, he was pulled from the game. He finished the season with a 5.31 ERA in seven games (six starts). More injuries and fatigue issues came in 2016, and the Braves then decided to let him test the water after the season.
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The Angels signed Banuelos in August of last year and currently resides in Salt Lake where he is being given another chance to be a starting pitcher. He has worked extensively with the strength and conditioning staff. He is not off to the best start in 2017, however. Through five starts, he owns a 4.78 ERA with a 2-2 record. His biggest problem has been his control, as he nearly has as many walks as strikeouts.
As the former #4 prospect in the Yankees organization, Banuelos undoubtedly has the potential to make a significant impact in the big leagues. The only question that remains is whether or not he can stay healthy. If he can, Banuelos, 26, could be a steal for the Angels, and a contributor for years to come.