Top 10 Players from 2011 - No. 9: Manny Banuelos
Just like Betances, Banuelos flashed excellent pure stuff all year long but struggled to command the strike zone and regulate his pitches deep into games. For whatever reason, only a few parks in the Eastern League keep pitching counts, so the data is shoddy.
That said, here are the three games from this season during which pitch counts were recorded, one from April, one from May and one from June:
April 25 - 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 SO, 2 BB, 2 HB -- 73 pitches, 47 strikes
May 27 - 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO -- 90 pitches, 47 strikes
June 23 - 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 6 SO -- 96 pitches, 61 strikes
As you can see, none of those starts was bad. In fact, the Thunder won the latter two (though the middle win came because the game was completed early because of incredibly dense fog at Portland's Hadlock Field). The point remains, though: For Banuelos to live up to his potential No. 2 starter down the line, he must increase his pitch efficiency. Forty-seven strikes in 90 pitches is simply not going to cut it.
From a purely team-oriented standpoint, the elevated pitch counts got him out of the game sooner, thus taxing the bullpen. All that work caught up to the relievers late in the season, which certainly contributed to the Thunder's monumental late-season collapse.
If you're looking for a game, it's probably the duel he had with Casey Crosby -- one of Detroit's brightest young arms -- at Erie's Jerry Uht Park.
After allowing five runs on 11 hits in is previous 8 2/3 innings, Banuelos posted six zeroes with seven strikeouts, and worked around three walks and a hit batsman in the process. It was one of just two starts he made with the Thunder that lasted six innings or longer and, to that point, it was his best start of the year.