According to Trenton Thunder beat writer Josh Norris, Manny Banuelos will have Tommy John Surgery on October 4th, putting his 2013 season in jeopardy. Banuelos was the New York Yankees' top pitching prospect entering the season and has been for a couple years now despite his young age of 21. Although the news was not surprising given his injury-plagued season and arm problems, it was strange to hear that they just now decided to have Banuelos go under the knife. He has not pitched in a minor league game since his last start with AAA Scranton on May 18th. Why did general manager Brian Cashman wait so long for Banuelos to have the surgery?
Cashman said TJ only a reality recently. "If we knew he'd needed TJ a year ago, he'd have had it done a year ago."
It seems as though the Yankees were operating at all costs to avoid Tommy John surgery for their young prospect, which makes it harder to be upset about it. Obviously no organization wants its pitchers to go through such an intense procedure, and his X-rays may not have indicated that he needed it until recently. Either way, we can use Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg as a possible barometer for how long it will be until Banuelos starts to make rehab appearances, barring setbacks. Strasburg left the mound on August 21, 2010, then had the surgery done on September 3rd. It took him until August 7, 2011 to make a rehab start with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns.
Thus, there's a slight chance that he can return to the minors near the end of their '13 season, but more than likely it will take until 2014 Spring Training before fans can see Banuelos on the mound again. Prior to his injury, he was one of the youngest pitchers in AAA, so he will still be only 23 in '14. In 2011, he pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 8.7 K/9 in 27 starts between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton as a 20-year-old. There is still plenty of time for ManBan to develop, but now it looks as though the earliest fans will see him in the Yankees rotation is midseason 2014 since he likely needs to pitch a little better in AAA before a possible promotion (he has a 4.32 ERA in 13 starts there with an ugly 10 H/9 and 4.5 BB/9).
Get well soon, ManBan.