As expected, the Rockies have activated Dexter Fowler from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A instead of bringing the center fielder back to the big-league roster.
Fowler’s abdominal injury actually kept him from being demoted to Triple-A last month and since then the Rockies have repeatedly talked about the switch-hitter needing to improve his swing from the left side of the plate, to the point that the reporters covering the team have taken that weakness as gospel despite Fowler actually hitting better from the left side last season.
The bigger problem is that Fowler has hit just .225 with a .646 OPS in 172 career games away from Coors Field. He’s a prime candidate to be traded before July 31, but in the meantime he’s an injury away from returning to Colorado in at least a part-time role.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.