Congratulations Manny Banuelos. As a kid growing up in Mexico, you were a loyal New York Yankee fan. Now you are pitching flawlessly among the players you idolized.
You just barely turned the tender age of 20, yet you’re one of the juiciest prospects ever in the Grapefruit League. Your spring has been perfect, nearly eight scoreless innings while notching seven strikeouts. And you have fanned established big league hitters, like Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis. When you are scheduled to pitch, scouts crowd around in large numbers, gossiping like old maids. Your locker is even wedged between Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, both destined for the Hall of Fame.
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You are a cool customer brimming with confidence. Your catcher Russell Martin says you’re better than Clayton Kershaw, another southpaw phenom he caught as a Los Angeles Dodger. The legendary Rivera calls you the best he’s ever seen, and only worries that you will stay humble with all the hype. But Mo knows that you both come from modest beginnings. He sees that your character is equal to your talent, and that you are not afraid to fail.
Soon your bubble will burst, since your Yankee “Papa” Brian Cashman says you still wear Pampers and must start the season no higher than AA ball. But rest assured that Mr. Cashman will soon remove the training wheels from your bike and will be in New York with you’re new pals by mid season. Your dream will then become reality, Manny Banuelos, and for many years to come.
Manny’s roots are embedded in Monterrey, a city in northern Mexico where soccer takes a back seat to baseball. He signed with the Yankees as a 16 year old in 2008 for $450,000. As mentioned, he is a life long fan of the Bronx Bombers, as well as his large family, including grandma. He carries himself well, which is why words of wisdom from Rivera only serve as positive reinforcement.
“My family, especially my mom,” says Banuelos, “always taught me to keep my feet on the ground.”