Sweeny Murti
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Meet Manny Banuelos. 20 years and 1 day old as he faced the Red Sox in Fort Myers Monday night.

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He struggled a bit with his control, walking three. But he faced a lineup full of big-league hitters top to bottom and didn’t give up a run before reaching his pitch count and exiting in the 3rd inning. Final line: 2.2 inn, 2 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts. Lefties Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez were 0-for-4 against him. Banuelos’s last pitch was a 3-2 change-up to Kevin Youkilis for a swinging strike three. A 3-2 change-up from a 20-year old? Pretty fun to watch. Maybe that’s just Manny Being Manny.

Listen to Manny Banuelos after his start against the Red Sox:

Banuelos is confident in his abilities and enjoys the attention. It wasn’t Fenway Park in September, but pitching against the Red Sox was a good test and he looked like he was up for it. Be patient though—as one of the coaches told me last week, “He has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to pitch in the big leagues right now. He still needs to build innings and develop more.”

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Fans in the Tri-State area might want to check out the Trenton Thunder in April when Banuelos and Dellin Betances will both be in the starting rotation. Maybe you can wait until May. But I wouldn’t wait too much longer, unless you’d rather drive to Scranton.

It’s still asking a lot of these guys to appear in the Bronx in 2011. But it will be a lot of fun charting their progress along the way.

And start practicing now—it’s pronounced ban-u-AY-los.

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Sweeny Murti