The New York Yankees are said to be giving Manny Banuelos a chance at cracking the Opening Day roster as a member of the bullpen. The 22-year-old prospect missed the equivalent of two full seasons due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, and yet Banuelos could earn his chance in the big leagues with an impressive spring.The team is in desperate need of relievers and it seems that the plan is to see what can be brought out of the barren program that is the Yankees’ farm system. Banuelos is not only coming off of Tommy John surgery, but he also has less than 15 games of experience at the Triple-A level. If this doesn’t sound like the Yankees mistreating young talent, I don’t know what does.
If Banuelos is in the bullpen come April, clearly the Yankees learned nothing from the way they continuously relocated Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain between the pen and the rotation, both of whom left the team this offseason via free agency. Banuelos’ role should not be toyed with. He is a starter, and the Yankees should keep it that way, at least for the 2014 season. If the Yankees give him more time to grow in the minors, Banuelos could become a solid two or three spot pitcher for them. However, if his first taste of action in MLB is as a reliever, I believe the young Mexican prospect could lose his identity and stumble out of the gates in his first major league years.
The Yankees have many other viable options in their system that would serve the team better than an unproven Banuelos. Cesar Cabral and Preston Claiborne have both seen MLB action and would be safer selections. The Yankees’ bullpen will undoubtedly be an area to watch heading into Spring Training 2014.