Banuelos Crashes Yankees' Pitching Party





NEW YORK—The organization's emphasis on developing pitchers is beginning to bear fruit.

Righthander Ivan Nova made 10 appearances for the Yankees and, if he's not traded, stands to be the club's No. 5 starter next year.

A trio of other righties finished the season in the high minors: Hector Noesi at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Dellin Betances and Adam Warren at Double-A Trenton.

Don't look now, but the Yankees have another talented arm on the verge of reaching the high minors, and this one is a lefthander.

Mexico native Manny Banuelos required an appendix operation during spring training, but he recovered to make 10 starts for high Class A Tampa and three more for Trenton to close the year. The 19-year-old made two more starts in the Eastern League playoffs before continuing his education in the Arizona Fall League.

"Betances and Warren moved very fast in the system over the past year," farm director Mark Newman said. "The way (Banuelos) has pitched the past two seasons, he could do that."

Signed at age 17 in 2008, Banuelos this season made 15 starts, counting two in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and went 0-4, 2.51 with 85 strikeouts and 25 walks in 65 innings.

"He pitched at Double-A at 19, which is rare," Newman said.

According to Newman, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound lefty pushes radar guns to 96 mph.

"He pitches at 92-93 and has a changeup and curveball," Newman said. "All three pitches are plus (at times), and he has a mound presence way beyond his years.

"The velocity on the fastball has improved, and the curveball is tighter and quicker."

As with any teenage pitcher, Banuelos has room to grow.

"He is young and there is maturing left to do," Newman said. "He will take his lumps and we'll see how he handles that. He hasn't done that yet."

Because Banuelos made a combined 15 relief appearances in 2008 and '09, the bullpen could be an option.

"Out of the pen his velocity plays up—and he could do that—but he has three pitches to be a starter," Newman said. "When we were managing his innings at (low Class A) Charleston (in 2009) he was at 92-94 after pitching at 91-92."

YANKEE DOODLES

• The Yankees added toolsy, 23-year-old outfielder Melky Mesa to the 40-man roster to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. He won MVP honors in the high Class A Florida State League this season.

• Righthander Craig Heyer, a 25-year-old who repeated at Tampa this year, pitched well through five short AFL stints, notching six strikeouts and just three walks in 12 innings.