Banuelos, 21, returned from a brief stint on the disabled list with an impressive performance that saw him strike out five batters in 3.0 innings of work. He gave up two hits but did not allow a walk or a run. He followed that up last night with another five innings of one run ball. It was a far cry from his first two starts of the 2012 season when he allowed 14 hits, seven walks and six runs in 5.1 combined innings. With the starting rotation in a state of flux in New York, the triple-A prospect could be a sight for sore eyes come mid season. Banuelos’ control still needs a fair bit of fine tuning but he has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter with a little more polish.
It’s hard to keep a good man down, although current Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair is doing is darndest to keep Rizzo’s sizzling bat in triple-A. The former Red Sox prospect is currently hitting .357 with 15 extra base hits – including nine home runs – and 31 RBI in 30 games. Strikeouts continue to be an issue with Rizzo as he’s K’d 26 times. The left-handed hitter does still have some work to do against southpaws with an OPS split of .725 LHP/1.198 RHP. Lahair and his .500 BABIP (and 30% K rate) is going to come crashing down to earth at some point and the organization has a very good option waiting in the wings.
Jenkins appears to be getting stronger as the year progresses. The right-hander struck out 10 batters in 6.0 innings on May 7 and 17 in his last 11.2 innings. On the down side he’s also walked four batters in each of his last two starts so he has some work to do in harnessing his pitches, which include a fastball that touches the mid-90s and a very promising breaking ball. Jenkins is in his first season of full-year ball after two years in the rookie leagues so he has a long way to go but the organization has to be excited.
Taillon is an interesting case. He is a young, hard-throwing prospect who produces decent results but he gets very little press. We might start hearing a lot more about him, though, with top prospects Matt Moore, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper now playing the big leagues. Taillon needs to sharpen his command but he has very good control for a flame thrower. He walked just 22 batters in 92.2 low-A numbers in 2011 and he’s issued just six free passes so far this season in high-A. He’s also struck out 33 batters and allowed just 19 hits in 30.2 innings of work. Taillon has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter if he continues to improve and can sharpen up his secondary pitches.
Sano has found the move from short-season ball to full-season ball to be much to his liking. He’s hittting .304 with 10 home runs – including another one last night – and 20 walks in 32 games – good for a wOBA of .465. Unfortunately he’s swinging and missing too much with 39 whiffs, which will eventually drag his batting average down when his BABIP begins to normalize. Signed as a shortstop he’s now playing third base regularly but he still has a fair bit of work to do to polish up his defense. Sano could eventually become a massive power threat in the middle of Minnesota’s lineup.