MOOSIC — With New York in the midst of a seven-game road trip through Chicago and Boston, Brian Cashman decided to take a trip from the Big Apple to Moosic Tuesday night.
The New York general manager couldn’t have picked a better game to watch from behind home plate at PNC Field.
Not only did he get to see prized prospect pitcher Manny Banuelos – the No. 2 overall prospect in the organization according to MLB.com – make his Triple-A debut, Cashman got a glimpse of the No. 1 overall prospect in the organization Jesus Montero smack three hits, including a home run.
New York’s general manager addressed several issues surrounding the organizations top two prospects.
Cashman addressed the recent talk that Montero would be getting a call-up to the majors soon. Although he didn’t confirm the rumor, he didn’t deny it either.
“It’s possible,” Cashman said when asked if Montero could be called up this year. “He’s obviously someone that I think can play in the big leagues in 2011. Will he? We’ll see. Obviously I think the experience here the last two years has helped.”
Montero, 21, is seeing a slight decrease in power in his second season at Triple-A, but his .288 batting average is right on par with his .289 mark from 2010. His longball on Tuesday was his 11th of the season; last year for SWB he pounded 21.
He has started to heat up. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .359 with three home runs. He had similar stats at this time last season to help SWB reach the postseason. If all goes well, he may help New York reach the playoffs in 2011.
“This is the part of the year he broke out last year,” Cashman said. “Right before the trading deadline he started to take off and had a monster finish. So this is the time of the year, the stretch drive where he might shine.
“This is a middle of a lineup hitter in the big leagues, we believe some day, and he’s a very young player too. What he’s done at the level he’s done it at and the age he’s done it at is rare. So him and Manny Banuelos both have moved themselves very fast.”
Banuelos, 20, has also been rumored to be heading to New York this season after a strong showing in spring training with the parent club and solid performances with Double-A Trenton.
During the spring, the left-hander made six appearances – two starts – and went 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings pitched against Major League players and only allowed 10 hits. On Tuesday, he tied his career-high with eight strikeouts against Lehigh Valley and only allowed two runs.
“I don’t think there was anything left for him in Trenton so we wanted him to get some Triple-A games under his belt before the season ended,” Cashman said. “So as we move into next year the gap is closer to the big leagues.”
Cashman also raved about the prospects he held onto during the trade deadline and said that the Yankees aren’t given enough credit for their minor-league system, which has developed blooming stars Eduardo Nunez and Ivan Nova, to go along with a slew of other former farmhands currently playing in New York.
“We love Nova and love Nunez, but the next wave of Yankees we believe have even higher ceilings and even more potential than those guys,” Cashman said. “Hopefully the patience will pay off and we’ll continue to give guys the opportunity. The games themselves will decide the men from the boys.
“I’m not afraid to give them a chance.”