Top 10 words from last season - No. 8
The winter came and went, and both pitchers remained in pinstripes. In an offseason interview with me, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman even went so far as to say that those two pitchers were who Thunder fans should look out for in 2011.
Then came spring training, and Banuelos made the best of his chance to open everybody's eyes. He stuck in big league camp until the very end, putting on impressive outing after impressive outing, the crown jewel of which came in a start against, of all teams, the Red Sox.
Fans and the media clamored for Banuelos to make the jump north with the Yankees, either as the team's fifth starter or a lockdown lefty out of the bullpen. Still, he was only 20 (and won't be 21 until March), and needed far more refinement than he showed in spring.
After the pair were both reassigned to minor league camp, both were sent to Trenton, as expected. Thus, when each pitcher started, a load of attention was directed toward New Jersey's capital city. People wanted pitch counts, ball-strike breakdowns, and any update possible when Betances or Banuelos took the hill.
Even after they left Trenton late in the season, the mania followed them. After Banuelos' first start in Scranton -- which Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler attended -- the media at his locker following the game rivaled just about anything I've ever seen at Yankee Stadium.
Unless they're included in a trade this offseason, they're both likely to be back in Scranton's* rotation to start 2012, and where they go, the mania is sure to follow.