When looking to bolster the farm system this offseason, John Hart seeked high ceiling arms. Atlanta ended up trading bullpen help in David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve to the Yankees for former top prospect Manny Banuelos. Banuelos was taking the world by storm and was supposed to be the next big starter for the Bronx Bombers. Prior to the 2012 campaign, MLB.com had Banuelos ranked as the 13th best prospect in the whole league. Unfortunately, he only lasted six starts until having to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Sitting out the majority of the 2012 and all of 2013, Banuelos’ stock took a hit. He was still shaking off some rust in 2014, as he posted a 4.13 ERA over three levels and 26 appearances (25 starts) with a 8.4 K/9 and a 3.7 BB/9 rate. Hart took Banuelos off the Yankees hands while his stock was low, and it looks like it could pay off big for Atlanta. A big reason he may have brought in Banuelos is because he hired former Yankees head scout Gordon Blakeley, and he surely got his seal of approval.
It was just four years ago in Spring Training that Mariano Rivera stated Banuelos was the best pitching prospect he had ever seen. Banuelos is having an outstanding 2015, and is showing why he was so highly touted. He has a 5-2 record with a 2.29 ERA in 13 starts for AAA Gwinnett. One factor that is holding him back a bit is the fact that Atlanta has him on an innings limit, and many think his Major League future could be in the bullpen. It’s clear the Braves see him as a starter for now, but either way, if Banuelos can translate this type of success to the big leagues, he can be a very valuable asset to the team. With Mike Minor’s future with Atlanta looking cloudy and Alex Wood being the only lefty in the rotation, the southpaw could have a future in our rotation sooner than many expect. I see him throwing a pitch in Atlanta before the season is over, and maybe he can live up to the hype. He is still just 24 years old. I have Banuelos ranked 6th overall on our Braves Top 25 Prospect List.