Yankees' pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS

Banuelos Optioned To Minors, Hopes For Return To Bronx

While there was plenty of talk prior to the start of spring training that Manny Banuelos might crack the Yankees’ 25-man roster to start the season out of the bullpen, those in the know had a pretty good idea that simply wasn’t going to happen. Sunday confirmed that belief, as one of the last two remaining “Killer B’s” was optioned to the Yankees’ minor league camp. Banuelos, while not surprised by Brian Cashman’s decision to send him down, remains hopeful and positive for a big league call-up later this season:

I think I’m going to make it, if I stay healthy. I think it’s the best thing. Like they say, I’ve got to make progress. I didn’t pitch any games when I got hurt. Those (two outings this spring) were the first ones…It’s about time and about comfort. Go to the minor leagues – I don’t know if I’ll start in Double-A or Triple-A, whatever, just keep pitching. Get all my pitches to where I can help the team.

Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman isn’t sure where Banuelos will begin his 2014 campaign, even considering keeping the young lefty back in extended spring training to continue knocking off the rust:

We’re still talking about that, so whatever team I assign him today, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the team he’ll be with…We’ll take into account weather and everything else that’s best. Obviously, the arm strength is there. I think he’s a little rusty, which is understandable. We’ll see how the rest of minor-league camp goes before the actual placement will take place.

Cashman even believes that with Banuelos’ talent and work ethic, he might be correct in hoping for a return ticket to the Bronx later this season:

When you have that type of physical ability, you’re left-handed, especially, and there’s a thin pitching market, you can move up real quick in this game…Anybody knocking the bats out of everyone’s hands, especially on the Double-A, Triple-A level, is going to be on the radar to help us.

That’s great news for the young fireballing lefty, and Cashman also believes that he could return to spot start or in the bullpen depending on the team’s needs at that point. Banuelos got shelled this spring in two outings, pitching to an ERA of 63.00, allowing 7 earned runs in one frame, allowing four hits and walking three. Despite the poor results, Banuelos feels good about how he was able to complete his outings injury-free. Manny’s Killer B partner in crime, Dellin Betances has had an outstanding spring and if he continues pitching well, will most likely make the Yankees squad as a member of the bullpen.

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