I know you remember the “Killer B’s.” I don’t mean the actual Killer’s either. Not Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman of the pre-millenial Houston Astros. I mean the future star pitching trio from the New York Yankees farm system of season’s past.
The Yankees weren’t exactly known for developing young talent during in the first decade of the 2000’s, and the closest they got to “Killer B’s” were the midges that assaulted Joba Chamberlain in 2007.
But whenever they did manage to get a minor leaguer into the limelight, that player usually earned their fair share of the national prospect spotlight.
The organization drafted right-hander Dellin Betances in the sixth round of 2006. Next summer, they drafted 6 foot 10 righty Andrew Brackman 30th overall and in the following March of 2008, signed left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos out of Mexico at age 16.
By 2011, the three had been dubbed the Bronx version of the “Killer B’s.”
As history would have it —as it has it with most MLB prospects— it was a better tale-th told than a dream come-th true.
Betances has developed into a dominant relief pitcher, with arbitration battles and a rotation of other big name closers keeping him away from any ninth-inning opportunities.
Brackman, the biggest prospect of the three at the start, was drafted with Tommy John surgery in progress and didn’t pitch until 2009. However, per his signing bonus and contract, he was immediately placed on the 40-man roster.
He reached the big leagues with the Yanks for a highly anticipated cup of coffee at the very end of 2011, but was then released.
He pitched in the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2012, briefly with the Chicago White Sox in 2013 and then hung up his still-shiny cleats to pursue basketball, which he played along with baseball at North Carolina State.
His last signing bonus check from New York arrived in 2014, his baseball career already ended. Now that’s a slam dunk.
Then there’s Banuelos, who has definitely experienced a career arc in-between his former “Killer B” mates.
It may have been about Brackman at the start —and Betances now— but of the three, nobody reached higher prospect status than Banuelos.
The young Mexican pitcher made quick work of opposition until Triple-A provided him his first test in 2011. He peaked again at Triple-A in 2012, but became a Tommy John victim himself and missed all of 2013.
Upon his return in 2014, and still just 23 years young, their wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare waiting for Banuelos. He put up good numbers in 2014 from High-A to Triple-A, putting himself on the doorstep of a 2015 major league debut.
He did make that debut, just not with the Yankees. On New Year’s Day in 2015, New York traded the former top prospect to the Atlanta Braves for relievers Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter.
Banuelos, recently turned 24, was dominating for Triple-A Gwinnett and earned his big league call-up at the onset of June. Unfortunately, after climbing the difficult ladder, he struggled in six starts (seven appearances) for the Braves.
Elbow troubles reared back around in 2016 as Banuelos suffered his worst minor league numbers of his career. He was designated for assignment in August.
2017 saw him sign west with the Los Angeles Angels. He was mediocre and for the first time, pitched primarily out of the bullpen for Triple-A Salt Lake.
He made one start in the Mexican Winter League before signing with the other L.A. club, the Dodgers, in the middle of November.
Back in Triple-A, now starting again with Oklahoma City, Banuelos is looking as good as ever. At 27, he has been terrific for the Dodgers. In 77.1 innings, he sports a 3.14 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and a 91:25 K:BB ratio in 14 starts (15 appearances).
He is currently on the 7-day DL, but his last start before his injury was a dominant 10 strikeout performance.
The Dodgers have gone through the farm quite a bit this season, and obviously a current injury keeps Banuelos from his second career call-up at this moment.
He also isn’t on the 40-man roster right now, but the way pitchers fall left and right nowadays, even temporarily, Banuelos could soon earn his second chance in The Show.