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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Killer B's

Known for a long time as a franchise that simply out bought their competition instead of building from within, the New York Yankees have finally been able to build up a very strong minor league system. They are one of three teams with 6 Top 100 Prospects on the 2011 Baseball America Prospect list and their farm system has been ranked in the top 5 in baseball multiple times in 2011. Headlining this sudden influx of Yankees’ minor league talent are three pitchers, known as the Killer B’s. Thought by most to be the best of these three Yankees arms is the petite 20 year old, Manny Banuelos. While not particularly tall (under 6’), this lefty brings with him a very strong repertoire of pitches. First, there’s his explosive fastball. A pitch that has really gained velocity over the past year, Manny’s heater can hit up to 97 MPH, and sits consistently in the mid 90’s. He has good command of this fastball, especially for someone so young, and it is said to have good life “down in the zone”. Manny also has a strong curveball, another improvement over the Banny from a year ago. Usually around 75-80 MPH, this pitch has good, late movement and Banuelos is able to throw it to both sides of the plate. His best pitch, though, is probably his changeup. Manny throws it at 78-82 MPH and, when it’s on, it has what’s called “dead fish drop”. He has a lot of confidence with this pitch and has the ability to locate it very well. To go along with the impressive repertoire of a mid 90’s fastball, a sharp breaking ball and an excellent changeup, Banuelos has shown amazing poise on the mound for a man his age. He never looks overwhelmed on the mound which, when pitching for the New York Yankees, is a very good thing. He is still only 20 and has never pitched above AA ball but, when he does make the majors, expect great things from Banny. The next of the three impressive pitching prospects from NY is 23 year old Dellin Betances. Unlike Banny, Betances is not a small guy, coming in at an impressive 6’8”. Like Banuelos however, Dellin is blossoming into one of the better pitching prospects in the game of baseball. His best pitch is a fastball that routinely hits 95-96 and, even more impressive, Betances has shown the ability to keep it in the strike zone. While, not perfect, Betances has shown a very promising ability to blow by people with his heater in the zone for a very effective “out pitch” early on in his career. Betances also throws a very sharp, very tight 12-6 curveball, with very late movement down in the zone. Consistently hitting 81-83 MPH, Betances has shown the ability to get hitters out with this breaking ball as well. Finally Betances also has a very decent changeup. While not the dazzling pitch that Banny’s changeup is, Dellin’s is a decent pitch that works very well to compliment the mid- high 90’s fastball and the nasty hook. The one problem for Betances might be his mechanics, as pitchers of his height tend to have some mechanical issues and he has been known to “get out of sync” from time to time. However, he has also shown the ability to correct himself in this regard, which makes it less of a concern and with his impressive arsenal of pitches, he should be a very good pitcher for the Yankees very soon.

The final, and probably least impressive, of the Killer B’s is Andrew Brackman. Drafted in the 1st round in the 2007 Amateur Draft, the 25 year old Brackman has always been a very talented pitcher. However, his career has been set back by injuries, injuries that until recently had people thinking much less of him as a prospect. He didn’t pitch until 2009 because of Tommy John Surgery and was unimpressive in that season. However, he came back with a vengeance in 2010, posting much better numbers and earning a promotion to AA. Brackman is the biggest of the three Killer B’s, coming in at 6’10”. Following the trend set by the other B’s, Brackman has a very strong fastball, sitting consistently between 92-96 MPH and even hitting 97 at times. He also has late, two seam life to this fastball, which is able to produce a lot of late, weak swings. Brackman also has a very strong curveball, with tremendous “knee buckling” break, that, with his size, can be close to unhittable when he’s on. Finally, he has an effective changeup that he throws at 85-88 MPH (lol), which, similarly to Betances’, is not a tremendous pitch, but a very effective compliment to the fastball and hook. Because of the surgery and injury history of Brackman, he’s the farthest of the three from a “sure thing”, but he definitely possesses the raw ability to be a great pitcher in the future.

All in all, The Killer B’s bring a very promising young pitching core to New York. They all have very strong mid 90’s fastballs, strong, sharp breaking balls and effective changeups (with Banny’s being the truly dominant one). They represent what could be a changing of the guard for New York, with more emphasis on prospect development and home grown stars and less on simply outspending everyone else…….as fun as that might be. ;)

Banuelos’ 2010 Stats (RK-AA): 64.2 IP, 2.51 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 3.40 K/BB, 1.222 WHIP

Betances’ 2010 Stats (A-AA): 85.1 IP, 2.11 ERA, 11.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 4.91 K/BB, 0.879 WHIP

Brackman’s 2010 Stats (A-AA): 140.2 IP, 3.90 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 3.23 K/BB, 1.301 WHIP

-Scouting info courtesy of Frank Piliere of MLB Fanhouse.

1 comment:

  1. A travesty to give the name of the Killer B's to people of such little importance. There will only be one group of Killer B's, Biggio, Berkman, Bell, Bagwell, Berry (etc.).