Russell Martin suggests Manny Banuelos is “more polished” than Clayton Kershaw

4 Comments

Those who stuck around long enough during last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game were given quite the treat.

In addition to watching the impressive glove work of Red Sox prospect shortstop Jose Iglesias (here’s an example of what you missed), Yankees prospect left-hander Manny Banuelos struck out three over two scoreless innings of work.

Banuelos, who turns 20 years old later this month, is widely considered the best pitching prospect in the Yankees’ farm system. The 5-foot-10 left-hander has a 2.59 ERA over his first 215 2/3 professional innings, averaging 9.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Baseball America recently ranked him as baseball’s 41st best prospect.

I hadn’t seen Banuelos pitch prior to last night, but I was mostly struck by just how smooth his delivery is for a 19-year-old. According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Russell Martin had even higher praise.

“He has as good stuff as I’ve seen,” said Russell Martin, who caught Banuelos’ two scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Friday. “I compare it to [Clayton] Kershaw or even more polished than Kershaw, which is pretty good.”

Oh boy. The New York hype machine has found its new best friend.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.