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ManBanned: Yankees trade Manny Banuelos to Braves

Former Yankees top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos is headed to Atlanta. What went wrong? AP Photo/Kathy Willens

NEW YORK -- It wasn't all that long ago that Manny Banuelos was ranked the fourth-best prospect in the nation and Yankees insiders were talking about him as a possible top-of-the-rotation starter.

But ManBan's fall from grace was even more rapid than his fastball, which mysteriously vanished along with his control following Tommy John surgery in 2012, and on New Year's Day, Banuelos' Yankees career came to an unceremonious end when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for David Carpenter, a journeyman right-hander with a big fastball, and Chasen Shreve, a young (24) left-hander who threw 12 innings for the Braves in 2014.

The trade of Banuelos means that three of the Yankees' four most-hyped prospects of the past five years -- Jesus Montero, Andrew Brackman and Banuelos -- are all now ex-Yankees; only Dellin Betances, who has proved to be the goods, remains in pinstripes and appears to have a bright future.

What went wrong? Tough to say exactly. It would be easy to trace Banuelos' problems to the Tommy John surgery, but an organizational source refused to give Banuelos that out when I spoke with him Thursday night. "Last year, his stuff just wasn't as good," the source said. "He's had control problems and he's only been able to throw 100 innings in the past three years."

Indeed, in two stints in Triple-A ball, Banuelos' walk rates were positively unsightly; in 73 career Triple-A innings, he walked 39 batters, nearly five walks per nine innings. He still struck batters out at a respectable rate -- 8.1 K's/9IP -- but he allowed 79 hits and his Triple-A WHIP was 1.609. Despite all his potential, Banuelos really had just one dominant season, in Class A ball back in 2009. And from what they saw this past season, the Yankees were pretty sure he would not be helping them in 2015.

Carpenter's hammer: Despite the fact he will hit his 30th birthday in July, the Yankees like what they got in Carpenter, whose fastball has been clocked at 99 and who one industry source told me has "a wicked slider." Carpenter was outstanding for the Braves in 2013 -- 4-1, 1.78, 74 K's in 65 1/3 innings and a 0.990 WHIP in 56 relief appearances -- and also went 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA and 67 K's in 61 innings this past year. He seems to fill the void for a right-handed middle reliever the Yankees created when they traded Shawn Kelley on Monday.

Chasen rainbows: A Yankees insider described Shreve as "a crafty lefty," which seems redundant when you realize you almost never hear anyone described as a "crafty righty." Shreve throws in the 88-90 range but showed the ability to strike out hitters in the minors (275 in 276 2/3 IP in five minor league seasons), and in his brief stint with the Braves last year, fanned 15 in 12 1/3 innings. If nothing else, he adds bullpen depth and could develop into something down the road.

New era pinstripe bowl: The addition of Carpenter and Shreve brings the total of new Yankees in camp this spring training to 11, along with previous pickups Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Johnny Barbato, Jose DePaula, Gonzalez Germen, Domingo German and Sir Didi Gregorius. That's not counting Chase Headley, Chris Capuano and Chris Young, all of whom signed free-agent deals after spending part of 2014 in pinstripes. And out the door are Kelley, Martin Prado, David Phelps, Francisco Cervelli, Preston Claiborne, David Huff and Zelous Wheeler. Quiet offseason, huh?

Is it official yet? Hate to use the "R" word around the Yankees, but this offseason has all the earmarks of a rebuilding program. I put the question to a team insider, who hedged, but only slightly. "I would say [the Yankees] are stockpiling guys for the future," he said. "If you want to use the word 'rebuilding,' I guess you could."