Manny Banuelos, Gary Brown and Will Middlebrooks are among baseball's top 100 prospects, but all three were dropped from Major League camps Friday as teams continued to trim their rosters.
Banuelos, the Yankees' top prospect and MLB.com's No. 13 overall, was taking part in his second Major League Spring Training. After impressing with a 2.13 ERA last year, he continued to flourish this time around until his final outing. The left-hander began his spring with four scoreless innings, then allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in one frame against the Blue Jays, running his ERA up to 7.20.
Last season, Banuelos posted a 3.75 ERA between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, striking out 125 over 129 2/3 innings. He also exhibited the control problems that have plagued him throughout his career, issuing 71 walks. Those troubles resurfaced in Spring Training as he walked four in five innings.
In addition to Banuelos, the Bombers sent down No. 3 prospect Gary Sanchez, a catcher who hit .333 (3-for-9) with two runs scored in his first big league experience. Other cuts included catcher J.R. Murphy (No. 13) and Zoilo Almonte (No. 16), an outfielder who made some noise by hitting .333 (4-for-12) with two doubles and four RBIs.
Meanwhile, the Giants sent No. 1 prospect Gary Brown to Minor League camp after he went 2-for-11 in seven Cactus League games. Selected 24th overall in the 2010 Draft, he batted .336 with 53 steals at Class A Advanced San Jose last year, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors. The 23-year-old is expected to begin this season in center field for Double-A Richmond.
In Red Sox camp, top prospect Middlebrooks was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while left-hander Drake Britton (No. 14) was assigned to Double-A Portland. Middlebrooks hit .316 (6-for-19) with a double and an RBI in the Grapefruit League, although he struck out seven times without drawing a walk. In the field, the 23-year-old third baseman was perfect in 43 innings, racking up 11 assists without making an error. He will head to the Minors to get more playing time than the Red Sox could offer.
"Middlebrooks, he came [to camp] in search of some fielding balance and I think he found it," manager Bobby Valentine told MLB.com. "He understands now that he doesn't need two hands when he's moving around. He understands his feet positioning to throw, whether he's on the move or kind of stationary. I thought he made great progress. He knows himself better as a hitter. He needs reps."