All Eyes on Alliance

Tonight could be something special at Alliance Bank Stadium – and I’m not just talking about the postgame fireworks.  Whether you’re a Chiefs fan, Yankees fan, or fan of minor league baseball in general, tonight’s game is essentically can’t-miss action.  The reason: tonight’s pitching matchup.

This season, Chiefs right-hander Brad Peacock hasn’t been used to being the less heralded of the two starters in any given game.  But tonight, Peacock – #42 on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospects list – may take second billing, at least pregame.  Yankees left-hander Manny Banuelos will start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – the same Banuelos who is Baseball America’s #13 overall prospect and #7 overall pitcher.  Let’s take a look at the matchup – and assess the chances for fireworks before the fireworks.

Brad Peacock

AAA stats: 2-1, 4.97 ERA in 5 starts; 25.1 IP, 19 H, 15 BB, 23 K; .207 average against

AA stats: 10-2, 2.01 ERA in 16 games/14 starts; 98.2 IP, 62 H, 23 BB, 129 K; .179 average against

Peacock’s AAA career has started interestingly, to say the least.  The first batter he faced ripped a double to deep center field.  The first inning he pitched saw five runs scored against him.  Two starts later, he carried a no-hitter into the eighth.

Overall, while the ERA doesn’t shine at the moment, Peacock has been more good than bad in Syracuse.  The Chiefs have won 3 of Peacock’s 5 starts, and his ERA’s an even 3.00 since his first start against Lehigh Valley.  The AAA rookie’s fastball scorched up to 97 miles per hour in his last start at Columbus, and his sharp knuckle-curveball has also been on display.  Tonight won’t be Peacock’s first go-around against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, either – he picked up his first AAA win against them on July 22, allowing just one earned run in five innings.

How much longer will Peacock be around for?  His promotion to the big leagues may be sooner than you’d think – Nationals manager Davey Johnson has specifically named Peacock and Tommy Milone as pitchers he’d like to see in Washington this season.  Peacock’s control could use some tweaking – see the 15 walks in 25.1 AAA innings – but his strikeout and hit numbers have stayed strong.

Peacock says he made a slight change in his delivery in the offseason.  Outside of that?  He didn’t have much more to offer for the improved results – though Peacock says there’s been added deception and command because of the delivery tweaks.

Manny Banuelos

AAA stats: 0-0, 2.45 ERA in 2 starts; 11 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 13 K; .311 average against

AA stats: 4-5, 3.59 ERA in 20 starts; 95.1 IP, 94 H, 52 BB, 94 K; .263 average against

You may have heard Banuelos’ name recently in trade discussions.  But the Yankees refused to include their prized left-hander in any potential deals, and Banuelos remains in pinstripes.  The scariest part about Banuelos?  He’s 20 years old – TWENTY – and already in AAA, averaging more than a strikeout per inning between Trenton and Scranton this season, with an ERA in the 3s.  Banuelos throws in the high 90s, and has drawn mounds of praise from Joe Girardi, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera.  Speaking of Rivera – the greatest closer of all-time had this to say about Banuelos back in March, when asked if Banuelos was the greatest pitching prospect he’d ever seen:

“I would say so.  I like everything about him.  The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitches, he has the ability to do that.”

At the time, Banuelos was 19 years old.  Which is the same age as a normal college sophomore.  And oh, by the way, Mariano Rivera’s been in professional ball since 1990.

Banuelos has also been widely praised for his mental makeup – players and coaches alike say he not only has great stuff, but he knows how to pitch.  The one thing Banuelos does NOT have now is the necessary endurance.  The Yankees are obviously taking it slow with one of baseball’s best prospects – he threw more than five innings just three times in 20 AA starts.

In case you’re not completely sold that tonight might be something special, here’s one more quote about Banuelos, from a rival scout:

“When he’s right, he has a Cole Hamels changeup, and early Johan Santana fastball, and I can’t even think of who has as powerful a curveball from the left side in the big leagues.”

Again…he’s 20.

—————————-

The Chiefs and Yankees tee off tonight at 7:00.  Tune in and take a listen at 6:45, when our coverage starts on The Score 1260.  And feel free to let us know about any other story ideas or send along some feedback – we’re glad to hear it.  The e-mail address is kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com and the Twitter account is @ChiefsRadio.

Kevin

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