Scouting Mets' Prospect #12: Brian Bannister

The New York Mets drafted Brian Bannister out of the University of Southern California in the 7th round of the 2003 draft. Bannister is the son of former Major League pitcher Floyd Bannister. Here's a scouting report on Bannister.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Brian Bannister
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 28, 1981
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Bannister's father, Floyd, had a very good 15-year career where he totaled a 134-143 record and a solid 4.06 ERA in 2,388 career innings. Floyd, who played 13 of his 15 seasons in the American League (five with the White Sox), struck out 1,723 batters. Brian Bannister grew up as a middle infielder, playing both second base and shortstop, and did not begin pitching until his freshman year of college.

Brian Bannister made a name for himself at USC back in 2002, going 4-4 with 5 saves for the Trojans in 34 relief appearances. Used primarily as a reliever in his sophomore season, Bannister began his march as a starting pitcher his junior season. In 2003, Bannister went 6-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 14 starts for USC before being drafted by the Mets in June of 2003. After signing with the Mets, Bannister was sent immediately to Brooklyn to help bolster the Cyclones' pitching staff. He instantly became a fan favorite. Bannister made twelve appearances for Brooklyn, nine of them starts. He easily overmatched the NY-Penn League batters, posting a very impressive 0.98 WHIP ratio in 46 innings.

In 2004, Bannister skipped a level and went directly to high-A ball in the Florida State League with the St. Lucie Mets where he enjoyed moderate success before being sent to AA-Binghamton to finish out the year. Bannister's talent and work ethic have been the reasons for the rapid rise through the farm system, not necessarily the numbers he has posted. The Mets thought so highly of Bannister and his make up that he was one of the Mets' pitching prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2004.

Growing up around baseball, Bannister knows what it takes to get to the Major Leagues. "The only negative is I didn't have a Dad who I could have day to day interaction with. But the positives, hanging out in major league clubhouses, getting exposed to the game, meeting the best players, outweigh that lone minus", Bannister told NYfansonly.com. Baseball is in his blood and that is not more evident than when he's on the mound.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2004

Binghamton

3-3

44.1

45

17

28

4.06

2004

St. Lucie

5-7

110.1

111

27

106

4.32

2003

Brooklyn

4-1

46.0

27

18

42

2.15


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cut-Fastball.

Fastball. Bannister has a very good fastball, averaging 89-93 MPH on the radar gun and it normally sits comfortably in the 90-92 MPH range. His fastball has very good sinking action which helps him keep the ball in the ballpark.

Other Pitches. Bannister has a true curveball and a true changeup, both plus pitches. He's also been developing a cut-fastball (or hard slider) that many scouts believe will be the pitch that allows him to become a very good pitching prospect His cut-fastball averages between 87-89 MPH.

Pitching. Some prospect junkies look at Bannister's less than impressive stat totals and come away unimpressed with his stature as a legit pitching prospect. Don't let his stats fool you. Bannister knows how to pitch. He can throw all four of his pitches with excellent command and has a plan out there on the mound. The addition of his cut-fastball could turn him from an above average pitching prospect into one of the elite pitching prospects so we'll chart that development very closely.

Projection. It all depends on Bannister. He has the work ethic, pedigree, and talent to become a front-end of the rotation starter, possibly a #2 pitcher down the road. We'll make the safe projection and say he is, at minimum, a middle of the rotation type starter...a solid #3 or #4 pitcher in a Major League rotation.

ETA. 2006. Bannister is closer to being Major League ready than his stats indicate. He finished the 2004 season in AA-Binghamton and that's where he should begin the 2005 season, with a possible mid-season call up to AAA Norfolk should he continue his steady progress. It would not be surprising for Bannister to be a September call up to the Mets next season, but the smarter money says he'll be ready to make the leap to Shea Stadium by 2006.

Starting Pitchers

2004 Team

Aaron Heilman

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Bob Keppel

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Neal Musser AA - Binghamton Mets
Brian Bannister AA - Binghamton Mets
Yusmeiro Petit AA - Binghamton Mets
Miguel Pinanago A - St. Lucie Mets
Kevin Deaton A - St. Lucie Mets
Matthew Lindstrom A - Capital City Bombers
Vincent Cordova A - Capital City Bombers
Greg Ramirez A - Capital City Bombers
Evan MacLane A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Scott Hyde A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Michael Devaney A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Joseph Williams A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Mike Swindell A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Gaby Hernandez R - GCL Mets


Comments

The Mets have some good pitching prospects and the system's depth is only going to get better with the additions of Alay Soler, Matt Durkin, and Philip Humber. Considering they have not pitched a professional inning in the Mets system as of yet, we'll focus on the pitchers that have. Among the Mets' pitching prospects, Yusmeiro Petit and Gaby Hernandez seem to have the highest ceilings simply because of their age and talent. However, the Mets do have a number of other good pitching prospects that still have time on their side to make their mark. The following starting pitchers are currently in our Tier One group...the top starting pitching prospects in the Mets system.

1) Aaron Heilman - Heilman struggled out of the gate in 2004 but was perhaps the hottest pitcher in the entire Mets' system the second half of the year. All Heilman needs is a chance. Give the guy 30 starts and see what he can do. But that day may never come with the Mets as he appears to be in New York's doghouse. It's a shame too. He's a better pitcher than people think.

2) Bob Keppel - Like Heilman, Keppel struggled mightily to begin the 2004 campaign but finished the year strong. Keppel's always had the repertoire and pitching ability to become a Major League starter. The question has been his strikeout rate. Still only 22 years old and seems forgotten.

3) Neal Musser - With the trade of Scott Kazmir, Musser becomes the Mets' best left-handed starting pitching prospect. A top prospect a couple of years ago, Musser was beset with injuries and had a bounce back year in 2004. Musser is still only 24 years old and should not be forgotten.

4) Brian Bannister - His stats do not accurately portray how good a pitcher he is. Bannister has four plus pitches in his repertoire and has the chance to be a front-line starter someday. Remember, Bannister has only been pitching for 4 seasons...two in college, two in the pros. So as good as he is, he is still learning which is a scary thought.

5) Yusmeiro Petit - The Mets #1 pitching prospect the minute the Mets traded Kazmir. Forget about the pundits and all their talk about lack of "stuff". Petit knows how to pitch at such a young age (19). Drawing comparisons to Greg Maddux, Petit has the ability to change speeds on his fastball and is very deceptive on the mound. Bottom line is he's been baffling hitters from the word go.

6) Miguel Pinango - Pinango was cruising through the Mets system until an injury in St. Lucie ended his season in 2004 after just three starts. Pinango's command is superb. Only Petit's command is perhaps better and even that's not a lock. Still only 21 years old (he'll be 22 by the start of next season), Pinango is still a very good pitching prospect for the Mets.

7) Kevin Deaton - Growing up as an offensive lineman, Deaton is an imposing figure on the mound. Like Pinango, Deaton's rise through the system hit a speed bump in 2004 when he was plagued by injury (tendonitis). His fastball tops off at 94 MPH with solid movement and is still only 23 years old.

8) Matthew Lindstrom - Nobody throws as hard as Lindstrom does in the Mets' organization...nobody! Lindstrom is a fascinating talent that is getting a chance to showcase his stuff in the Arizona Fall League this year. With a fastball that regularly sits in the 94-96 MPH range, he can top it off at 100 MPH at times. Used primarily as a starter up to this point, his future seems to be in the bullpen...possibly as a closer.

9) Vincent Cordova - Cordova has the talent to be a very good pitching prospect for the Mets. Drafted out of college in 2003, Cordova needs to prove he can get hitters out at the higher level. Like Pinango and Petit, Cordova's success is predicated on his control. He's a Tier One prospect for now but time is not on his side.

10) Greg Ramirez - Used as both a starter and a relieve in his short career thus far, Ramirez is like Cordova. He has the talent and the stuff to be a Tier One pitching prospect for the Mets, but like Cordova, he's going to have to prove it at the higher levels to remain in this group. It's unclear how he will be used in the future.

11) Evan MacLane - MacLane gives the Mets' pitching in their farm system they seriously lack: quality left-handed pitching among their starting pitching prospects. MacLane was dominating South Atlantic League hitters in 2004 before being sent to Brooklyn where he had the same success. MacLane should be challenged in 2005 and will most likely be part of the St. Lucie staff. Like Ramirez, Cordova, Petit, and Pinango, MacLane is all about the control. He has great command of his pitches.

12) Scott Hyde - Hyde was not scheduled to pitch in live games this past season after being drafted but still managed to showcase some good pitching in his stint with the Cyclones. Hyde has the chance to be the "sleeper" among the Mets' 2004 draft picks.

13) Michael Devaney - Among the NY-Penn League leaders in ERA, Devaney is very solid. As is the case with most of the Cyclones' rotation, he'll have to duplicate the same success at the higher levels to remain in the Tier One level of starting pitching prospects.

14) Joseph Williams - Like Devaney, it's hard to dispute the success Williams had in Brooklyn this past season. The fact that he's a lefty aids his chances to be challenged quickly in the Mets' farm system.

15) Mike Swindell - Another college arm that was drafted in 2004 that will have to quickly prove he can become a solid starting pitching prospect for the Mets.

16) Gaby Hernandez - The Mets' third round pick in 2004, right now, Hernandez appears to be second behind Petit with the highest upside among the starting pitching prospects. It's too early to tell, but Hernandez has the talent to duplicate Petit's fast track through the minors.

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