Banuelos solid in longest start since '09

Yanks' lefty prospect allows two hits over six scoreless frames

Manny Banuelos lowered his ERA to 2.25 with six shutout innings on Tuesday. (Rudy C. Jones)

By David Heck / Special to | May 17, 2011 8:23 PM ET

After getting into the win column for the first time in over a year in his last start, Manny Banuelos didn't factor into a decision in Tuesday's outing. He was more concerned, though, about the three walks he allowed over six scoreless innings.

Trenton's 20-year-old left-hander recorded season bests in hits (two) and strikeouts (seven) in his longest outing of the year, but he didn't factor into the decision as the Yankees' Double-A affiliate fell to the Erie SeaWolves, 1-0.

"This is good for me," Banuelos said. "I'm just trying to get better. ... I'm working with my mechanics and my pitching coach [Tommy Phelps]. Just trying to get my command better. I didn't like the three walks."

Facing's preseason No. 35 prospect for the first time, Erie managed only a ground-ball single by Audy Ciriaco to lead off the second inning and a one-out infield single by Francisco Martinez in the fifth.

"The first single was a fastball right in the middle," Banuelos said. "He hit the ball. It's OK, they're gonna get hits. I just didn't want them to score.

"[The second hit] was a ground ball to second base. It was a bad throw. That happens. After that, I got strikeouts of the [next two] guys."

Banuelos, who signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, lowered his ERA from 2.77 to 2.25 as he pitched six innings for the first time since last August.

"My changeup and breaking ball were working tonight for me," said the Mexico native. "The fastball too, especially the two-seamer, getting double plays. When the two-seamer is working, forget about it. It was my best start here."

After spending most of March in big league camp, Banuelos made one start for Trenton before being placed on the disabled list with a blister on his throwing hand. The Yankees prospect has slowly been building up his arm strength since returning from the DL, culminating in five- and six-inning outings in his last two starts.

"My finger's feeling great," Banuelos said. "I don't feel any pain here -- nothing like before. I can feel the ball, I can throw hard. I feel normal, I feel good."

Banuelos was bolstered by an extra two days of rest that he received as a result of Carlos Silva's insertion into the Trenton rotation on May 14. The last time the southpaw pitched deeper into a game was when he went seven frames for Class A Charleston on June 12, 2009.

"I want to try to get more innings," he said. "I feel strong, my arm feels good. Tonight it was a little bit cold, but that's OK."

Despite missing out on an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since July 2009, Banuelos has not become frustrated by his poor luck.

"We are a team," he said. "Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. ... The team played well. They helped me a lot with defense. I got my first win last time. If I get more wins, it's good for me. If not, I just plan to pitch well."

Now in his fourth professional season, Banuelos said he has benefited greatly from his first invitation to Major League Spring Training this year.

"That was a great experience," he said. "I took a lot of things from that, especially with the pitchers. They helped me a lot. I learned a lot of things, [like] how to mix pitches. That was awesome. That was a great time."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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