Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 10 Players for 2011 - No. 1: Manny Banuelos

Every Wednesday, Minor Matters will unveil its top 10 Thunder players to watch next season. Considering that the Tampa Yankees took home the Florida State League crown in 2010, there's no reason to believe that the upcoming season will have a shortage of talent around the diamond.

No. 1 - Manny Banuelos

Signed out of Mexico in 2008 by Lee Sigman, Banuelos has quickly gained both velocity and hype. He went from the high-80s/low-90s to the mid-to-upper-90s in the span of just three seasons, and has quickly established himself as one of the system's premiere arms. He stands 5-foot-10 and, after spending a few weeks around Cory Arbiso, seemed to take to wearing all black.

2010 season:
After an emergency appendectomy just before he was due to start Tampa's opener, chances seemed slim that he'd see Waterfront Park in 2010. Still, as he and his magnificent change-up dominated the Florida State League, it grew increasingly clear that he was well above his competition.

So, after Zach McAllister -- 2009's Trenton ace -- was swapped to the Indians, word came quickly that he and Dellin Betances were moving up to Trenton, and Hector Noesi and D.J. Mitchell were heading to Triple-A.

Banuelos made three starts with the Thunder in the regular season, none terribly impressive, results-wise. The plus stuff certainly was there, though. Then came the postseason, when it all came together in the Eastern League Division Series.

He dominated the Fisher Cats in the clincher, and was flashing as high as 97 miles per hour with his fastball. Things didn't go as well in the ELCS, when he allowed four runs on five hits in just 4 2/3 innings before exiting after a line drive caught him in the neck.

Still, the game in New Hampshire showed he has exactly the kind of potential the Yankees were hoping for when they brought him into the fold.

What's Next: More than likely he'll open the year back with the Thunder. Depending on how he performs and how the rest of the system advances, he should see Scranton by year's end.

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