The prodigal Manny Banuelos, who launched the myth of the "Yankee Pedro," comes home
It was 2011 when Manny Banuelos, then 20, rocketed through our farm system - the first in that line of mythical creatures known as Yankeus Pedromicus.
The elusive "Yankee Pedro" remains a legendary, fantastical being - a hieracosphinx promoted by the YES machine and nurtured by true believers, a group to which many on this site once belonged.
Long ago, the prophets proclaimed that a diminutive starter would rise from the mucked rotations of Moosic and lead the Yankees back to greatness, or at least a division title.
This creature would karmically offset the pain and disruption caused by Pedro Martinez, a head-hunting crusher of Yankee dreams in the final days of the Curse. Like the Great Pumpkin and Godot, this wondrous being was supposed to lead us out of the wilderness, if only we kept up our subscriptions to Baseball America, and believed.
The first Yankee Pedro was Manny Banuelos, a 5'10" lefty who seemed a miniature mix of Andy and Whitey, and who ranked as our No. 1 prospect on the pig lists. On New Years Day, 2015, when Manny was dealt to Atlanta for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve, was there anyone here who did not think the Yankees had traded away a future star? But the years weren't kind to Manny. In fact, the franchise probably held on to him too long.
In a world of Betanceses, Aroldises and giant Chad Greens, the notion of a tiny Yankee ace has fortified our fantasies for the last 15 years. For a while, it was Luis Severino - who bore a physical resemblance to Martinez, and even worked out with Pedro - though he clocked in at 6'2". Unfortunately, "Setback Sevy" cannot seem to stay on the field. I supposed we're still hoping for him in 2022, right? He must be, what, 50?
Last winter, Deivi Garcia - a 5'10" righty - seemed poised to become the Pedro. Something went wrong. Deivi fell apart in Scranton, couldn't throw strikes, an absolute wipeout year. The closest to a true Yankee Pedro might be Jonathan Loaisiga, 5'11", but he remains a bulwark of the bullpen, not an ace starter.
Which brings us back to the McConaughey Flat Circle of Time. Yesterday, the Yankees signed Banuelos to a minor league contract. They'll invite him to camp, if there is a camp. He hasn't pitched in two years, though he's surely been throwing on the side. He'll come to Tampa looking less like a Yankee Pedro than a Lucas Luetge, a bullpen situational lefty. Let's wish him luck.
Somewhere out there, a Yankee Pedro might now be entering grade school. Will we live long enough to see the prophesies fulfilled? Or are we just chasing Bigfoot? I donno anymore. But it's cold outside, and I'll happily live off the memories, if they get me through this winter.