Quartet of Thunder represent well in Manchester
For the first half of the year, the Thunder starter had put forth results that mostly resided toward the upper end of middling. The stuff’s been there, but the command has not, and that’s what has kept him from achieving the truly elite status.
After Zach Stewart started and Princeton native Erik Arnesen pitched a frame, Banuelos entered the proceedings and blew away the competition in rather impressive and efficient fashion.
He struck out all three men he faced — Bowie’s Xavier Avery, Altoona’s Starling Marte and Akron’s Juan Diaz — on just 13 pitches, all but two of which were strikes. He threw almost exclusively fastballs and topped out at 94 miles per hour, according to one scout’s gun.
“I haven’t felt that way throughout the year. If I’m able to throw like that, good things are going to happen. That’s the way I want to throw. It’s a good thing to take forward,” Banuelos said afterward, with the help of teammate and fellow All-Star Dellin Betances.
“I’m going to try to take this outing into the second half. I feel like the way I commanded out there and the way I felt, it’s something I (would) definitely take in the second half.”
Betances, who has struggled with efficiency problems all year, got into the game in the fifth and quickly put his struggles in the rear-view. He cut through the Western Division in just seven pitches, including a strikeout of Bowie catcher Caleb Joseph.
He also got a popout from Roger Kieschnick and finished a stress-free frame on Avery’s fly ball to the left-field warning track.
“It was a quick outing, seven pitches, I can’t complain,” he said. “Last time I pitched was six days ago, so it’s one of those things. I just had to go after these guys and throw strikes, and I got some good defense.”
On the offensive side, second baseman Corban Joseph was the star, scoring a pair of hard-hit singles, including a screamer through the box against Tigers stud hurler and Futures Game alumnus Jacob Turner.
Joseph has turned his stock around since his Trenton debut, when a barking wrist veiled his true offensive potential. Now, with everything long healed, he’s putting his sweet left-handed stroke to good use, culminating in a fan selection to Wednesday night’s action in the All-Star Game.
“I enjoyed it,” Joseph said. “I got lucky and got two hits. I swung through in my first at-bat, and that’s something I’ve never done before. They encourage that here. I thought, what’s a better time to do that than at the All-Star Game?”
Catcher Austin Romine, fresh off a two-hit effort at the Futures Game at Chase Field, rolled a single to right field in his first trip, putting a cap on a very fruitful effort for Trenton’s quartet of All-Stars.