White Sox acquire LHP Manny Banuelos from the Dodgers in exchange for 1B Justin Yurchak

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago White Sox made a minor league trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 40-man rosters are being set and Rick Hahn capitalized on the movement by acquiring a post-hype prospect.

Banuelos is now 27 years old and spent the season pitching at Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Dodgers organization. In 108 innings, he made 18 starts and posted a 3.73 ERA. The 5’10”, 215 pound southpaw had a FIP of 3.96 and his strikeout rate ticked up with an average of 10.5 K/9. Manny was signed as an international free agent out of Mexico by the New York Yankees way back in 2008. He cruised through the minor leagues and was a fixture on top prospect lists at every publication. Banuelos finally ran into some struggles in 2011 and 2012 upon arriving in Triple-A. He missed all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He came back and pitched in 76 innings across three affiliates in the New York system in 2014. The left-hander made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2015 and struggled in just over 25 innings. He was hurt again in 2016 and pitched for the Los Angeles Angels Triple-A affiliate at Salt Lake in 2017.

When Banuelos was at the height of his powers, he was consistently hitting 97-98 mph with his fastball. His heater is still considered to be above average but is no longer the plus pitch that it was in the past. He also displays an above average changeup with an average cutter and curveball.

Banuelos pitching against the Rockies in Spring Training 2018

Banuelos in his big league debut with Atlanta

The White Sox are losing minor league infielder Justin Yurchak. Justin was a 12th round pick in the 2017 draft class and signed for slightly over the post-10th-round per pick cap. The left-handed hitter told us about his journey in an interview last year, and here is our in-person report from 2018 with Kanny. The 6’1″, 205 pounder came into the organization as a third baseman. In 2017, he mashed at Rookie Level Great Falls with 8 homers in short season ball. He posted a wRC+ of 139 with a .434 wOBA. Here is a video of Yurchak hitting this year for Kannapolis:

Yurchak struggled in 360 plate appearances with Low-A Kannapolis this past season however. He posted a 13% walk rate but only showed a wRC+ of 100 with a .315 wOBA while hitting 1 home run. As a corner only bat and likely first baseman, the 22-year-old will need to show more power than that to move through the Dodgers’ system.

Justin Yurchak seems like an appropriate price to pay for the services of Manny Banuelos. It’s a worthwhile gamble for the White Sox front office to take on a player that they’ve apparently liked for some time. Banuelos has seen an increase in his strikeout rate this year and many of the White Sox’s pitching additions have been guys with above average-plus changeups. Manny goes right onto the White Sox 40-man roster which now sits at 35. It will be interesting to see how they handle roster decisions in the next month with this southpaw being almost certain to occupy a spot. Banuelos will likely be given an opportunity to obtain a rotation spot at the back end with the big league club. At a minimum, he will serve as rotation depth in Triple-A Charlotte and he could end up in a future bullpen as well.

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