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On Wednesday the Seattle Mariners traded catching prospect David Banuelos to the Minnesota Twins for international bonus slots worth $1,000,000. Here’s a quick look at the newest member of the Twins farm system.
David Banuelos, C: Born in Ontario, California, Banuelos was the starting catcher for Long Beach State University in 2016 and 2017. He drew Nike Minnesota Twins Jerseys raves for his defensive ability but there were just enough questions about his hitting to keep him out of the first few rounds. The Mariners drafted him in the fifth round last June.
Sent to Everett in the Northwest League for his pro debut, he hit .236/.331/.394 in 127 at-bats with four homers, 16 walks, and 40 strikeouts while throwing out 37% of runners.
Banuelos was one of the top defensive catchers in college baseball over the last two seasons, showing the desired combination of mobility, reliability, arm strength, and leadership behind the plate. There’s no question about his ability to catch at the major league level.
The doubts come with the bat. Banuelos hit .280/.369/.432 over three years of college ball including .289/.368/.468 in 2017. His performance with wooden bats in summer ball was rather weak, hitting .186/.277/.229 in the Alaska League in 2015.
As noted above he didn’t hit for average in the Northwest League but he did draw some walks while showing a bit of isolated power, which pre-draft scouting reports quite well. In their pre-draft summary Baseball America described his hitting skills like this:
Banuelos has a patient, mature approach and excellent barrel control that allows him to get on base and make solid contact with near-average power potential.
He’s not much of a hitter yet, but there’s something to build on at least. Overall, Banuelos’ superior defense will keep him employed long enough for us to see if the bat develops further.