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Sunday, January 29, 2012
25Q/25D: When will the Killer B's arrive?

By Andrew Marchand

25 Questions, 25 Days: Day Five

The Killer B's, lefthander Manny Banuelos and righty Dellin Betances, are those dream prospects tucked away in the minors like Christmas presents that fans can’t wait to unwrap. One day it will really be Dec. 25, so when does the future become the present?

“They just have to refine their command,” Yankees VP of Player Development Mark Newman said. “Just learn how to pitch.”

They will both start at Triple-A in 2012, but Banuelos, 20, is probably closer to the big leagues than the 23-year-old Betances. Last year, Banuelos’ combo numbers from Double-A and Triple-A were 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA. The number that must improve is his walks. He walked 71 in 129 2/3 innings, which is nearly five per every nine innings.

Baneulos, like many young pitchers, must improve his precision. Even his fastball, which often develops before the secondary stuff, needs to be located more consistently. Still, he was the highlight of last spring with none other than Mariano Rivera declaring him the best pitching prospect he has ever seen in Yankee camp.

Even though Betances was on the major league club in late September, he is still behind Banuelos. His overall numbers last year were 4-9 with a 3.70 ERA. Like Banuelos, he also nearly walked five batters for every nine innings. At 6-foot-8, he is a classic guy that scouts love a lot because of his potential, but wonder if he can coordinate those large body parts fluidly enough to be consistent.

It would seem that the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda would have give Banuelos and Betances more time to develop. A member of the organization said that they would not have rushed Banuelos or Betances even without Pineda and Kuroda. He pointed to David Phelps and Adam Warren, legit depth guys who could step in if there is poor performance or injury at the major league level.

(Plus, if the Yankees hadn’t made the Jesus Montero deal, they would still have Hector Noesi). So Banuelos and Betances will arrive in the majors at their own pace.

The earliest, I believe, we could see them with the big club is June. For that to happen, they will have to dominate at Triple-A and outperform Phelps and Warren. Plus, there will have to be a need because of lack of performance or injury among the major league starters.

How else could we see them?  The Yankees considered Banuelos as a lefty reliever last year. There were some in the organization, including Stick Michael, who thought he would come quicker. The thought was he could be the lefty specialist. It stands to reason that could be in play this year if Banuelos is up to it and there is a need.

Betances could also be a candidate for a relief role, in theory, but he has limited experience in that area and there is quite the logjam in front of him.

If neither arrives in 2012, a year from now, Banuelos and Betances -- if they aren't traded -- should be legit candidates to compete for the starting rotation. For this to happen, they have to control their pitches and dominate Triple-A.

Here is the question: Do you want to see the Yankees bring these guys up in relief like they did with Joba?

Tomorrow: Will the real Phil Hughes please stand up?