Brandon Beachy was leading the league in ERA when he was shut down with an elbow injury in June and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Yesterday the Braves right-hander threw for the first time since going under the knife, telling Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he “felt giddy, like a little kid” and “it was fun.”
In this case “throwing” means simply playing catch from a distance of about 30 feet, so Beachy is a long way from re-entering the Braves’ plans, but as he said “it’s better than nothing.”
A typical recovery timetable would potentially make him an option for the Braves around midseason, although that’s far from guaranteed even if Kris Medlen’s amazing return from Tommy John surgery has everyone thinking about best-case scenarios.
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.