Yankees sign former top-5 prospect pitcher to minor-league deal

Andres Chavez

In the last couple of years, especially in 2021, the New York Yankees appear to have finally taken the next step when it comes to pitching development. They showed the “Gas Station” to the world, they started using more tech resources to optimize spin efficiency, spin axis, and other useful concepts, and the results speak for themselves.

Under pitching coach Matt Blake, the organization as a whole took a step forward and several arms broke out: Jonathan Loaisiga, Lucas Luetge, Nestor Cortes Jr., Clay Holmes, Joely Rodriguez, and several others are examples of the Yankees’ new pitching regime.

The Yankees now want to work their magic with a former top prospect. They signed left-hander Manny Bañuelos to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Bañuelos is now 30 years old, but people who have been following the Yankees for a while surely remember his prospect days.

The Yankees want to strike lightning in a bottle

The former Yankees’ farmhand has had a disappointing career so far, with MLB stints with the Atlanta Braves in 2015 and the Chicago White Sox in 2019. Between the two organizations, the southpaw has a 6.31 ERA in 77 innings, with 45 walks and 63 strikeouts.

In the early 2010s, however, he was one of the most promising left-handers in baseball. In 2011, he was the Yankees’ third-ranked prospect. He was the number one in 2012, according to MLB Pipeline, and fell to fifth in 2013. He was traded in 2015 for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve.

The Yankees had drafted him in 2008 and he pitched in their minor league system until 2014. His most recent professional stint came in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, with Fubon, and then in the Mexican League in 2021. There, he pitched very well, with a 2.51 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 136/43 K/BB ratio over 111 innings.

He’ll represent useful depth for the Yankees, but perhaps Blake, director of pitching Sam Briend, and the club as a whole can revive his MLB career.