Bannister "Cutting" His Way To The Top

Brian Bannister inexplicably gets left out of top pitching prospect discussions by a majority of the media and fans despite flying through the Mets' farm system at the pace of a top pitching prospect. He had a career year in 2005, posting a combined 13-5 record with a 2.72 ERA in two stops between Binghamton and Norfolk. Many in the Mets organization believe he is their top pitching prospect and the newest addition to his repertoire is a big reason why.

"Here's a kid with above average stuff and a really good fastball," a National League scout told InsidePitchMagazine.com back in October of 2004.

"I know he's down in the Arizona Fall League and from what I've heard he's working on a cut fastball clocked in the high 80's that could take his game to the next level. He has the pedigree, the work ethic, and the stuff to be an impact Major League starter."

More prophetic words could not have been uttered in regards to Brian Bannister a year ago.

It wasn't as if Bannister, who continually flew under the prospect radars of passive followers of the Mets' farm system and the New York media since being drafted out of USC in the seventh round of the 2003 MLB Draft, hadn't had a solid professional career.

He entered the 2005 season with a career mark of 12-11 with a 3.72 ERA and reached the Double-A level at the pace of a top pitching prospect, accomplishing that goal in just 32 games at the lower levels.

So while most people might have overlooked his value as a legitimate pitching prospect, Brian Bannister and the Mets never doubted his ability.

"I accomplished what I set out to do this past season," Bannister told InsidePitchMagazine.com in a recent interview. "I think I put myself on the radar and I proved that I could compete with anybody at the minor league level. I was able to make some strides mentally and physically, putting it all together."

Bannister tore through Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Norfolk, posting a combined ERA a full run lower than his previous career mark. The development of his cut-fastball was instrumental.

"I always had a big 12-6 curveball and my changeup was there, but not where I wanted it to be," Bannister said. "Adding the cutter allowed me to give batters another look. To me, it is more of a backwards sinker to give me that little wrinkle. When I threw the cutter, a guy would roll over on the pitch instead of hitting it sharp."

Bannister, who really has only been pitching for the better part of three years after attending USC as a positional player, was predominantly a two-pitch pitcher prior to 2005. Armed with a fastball that sits in the 88-92 MPH range, an average changeup, and a dominating curveball that was arguably his only true plus pitch, he realized he needed another pitch in his arsenal to compliment his repertoire when his curveball wasn't working for him.

"I throw a curveball that is a true 12-6 curveball in the 78-80 MPH range," said the son of former Major League pitcher Floyd Bannister. "It is definitely my bread and butter pitch. It has such a sharp break to it, but sometimes it is not on."

In years past, when his dominating curveball wasn't working for him in games, Bannister essentially became solely a fastball pitcher who would throw the occasional changeup. But with the addition of his cutter, Bannister became more complete.

"I throw a cutter to offset my fastball," the 24-year-old right-hander revealed. "It is not really a slider. It is about 2-3 MPH slower than my fastball and it has sharp and quick lateral movement at the end. My cutter is a contact pitch. I want the batter to hit it. It is a unique pitch. Batters have a tough time picking it up."

Opposing Eastern League and International League batters sure did have a hard time picking it up, hitting a combined .243 against Bannister in 2005, which was more than 30 points lower than opposing batters had hit off of Bannister in 2004.

"I was watching Mariano Rivera throwing his cutter and he was so effective with that one pitch that I knew I had to throw something similar," Bannister said. "Mine has late movement instead of having it break."

The addition of a cut fastball to his repertoire gave him increased confidence in all of his secondary pitches, which bubbled over the surface into tremendous results.

"Last year I wasn't able to make the best pitch to get out of the inning and this past year I was able to do that. I just learned to trust my secondary pitches, and the hitters realized that I would throw any pitch in any count."

Bannister's cutter has helped him rise to the top of the pitching prospect discussions in the Mets' system, no matter what the fans or the media believe.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"Here's a kid with above average stuff and a really good fastball,\" a National League scout told InsidePitchMagazine.com back in October of 2004. \r\n

\r\n\"I know he's down in the Arizona Fall League and from what I've heard he's working on a cut fastball clocked in the high 80's that could take his game to the next level. He has the pedigree, the work ethic, and the stuff to be an impact Major League starter.\"
\r\n
\r\nMore prophetic words could not have been uttered in regards to Brian Bannister a year ago.
\r\n
\r\nIt wasn't as if Bannister, who continually flew under the prospect radars of passive followers of the Mets' farm system and the New York media since being drafted out of USC in the seventh round of the 2003 MLB Draft, hadn't had a solid professional career.
\r\n
\r\nHe entered the 2005 season with a career mark of 12-11 with a 3.72 ERA and reached the Double-A level at the pace of a top pitching prospect, accomplishing that goal in just 32 games at the lower levels. \r\n

\r\nSo while most people might have overlooked his value as a legitimate pitching prospect, Brian Bannister and the Mets never doubted his ability.
\r\n
\r\n\"I accomplished what I set out to do this past season,\" Bannister told InsidePitchMagazine.com in a recent interview. \"I think I put myself on the radar and I proved that I could compete with anybody at the minor league level. I was able to make some strides mentally and physically, putting it all together.\"
\r\n
\r\nBannister tore through Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Norfolk, posting a combined ERA a full run lower than his previous career mark. The development of his cut-fastball was instrumental.
\r\n
\r\n\"I always had a big 12-6 curveball and my changeup was there, but not where I wanted it to be,\" Bannister said. \"Adding the cutter allowed me to give batters another look. To me, it is more of a backwards sinker to give me that little wrinkle. When I threw the cutter, a guy would roll over on the pitch instead of hitting it sharp.\"
\r\n
\r\nBannister, who really has only been pitching for the better part of three years after attending USC as a positional player, was predominantly a two-pitch pitcher prior to 2005. Armed with a fastball that sits in the 88-92 MPH range, an average changeup, and a dominating curveball that was arguably his only true plus pitch, he realized he needed another pitch in his arsenal to compliment his repertoire when his curveball wasn't working for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"I throw a curveball that is a true 12-6 curveball in the 78-80 MPH range,\" said the son of former Major League pitcher Floyd Bannister. \"It is definitely my bread and butter pitch. It has such a sharp break to it, but sometimes it is not on.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn years past, when his dominating curveball wasn't working for him in games, Bannister essentially became solely a fastball pitcher who would throw the occasional changeup. But with the addition of his cutter, Bannister became more complete.
\r\n
\r\n\"I throw a cutter to offset my fastball,\" the 24-year-old right-hander revealed. \"It is not really a slider. It is about 2-3 MPH slower than my fastball and it has sharp and quick lateral movement at the end. My cutter is a contact pitch. I want the batter to hit it. It is a unique pitch. Batters have a tough time picking it up.\"
\r\n
\r\nOpposing Eastern League and International League batters sure did have a hard time picking it up, hitting a combined .243 against Bannister in 2005, which was more than 30 points lower than opposing batters had hit off of Bannister in 2004.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was watching Mariano Rivera throwing his cutter and he was so effective with that one pitch that I knew I had to throw something similar,\" Bannister said. \"Mine has late movement instead of having it break.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe addition of a cut fastball to his repertoire gave him increased confidence in all of his secondary pitches, which bubbled over the surface into tremendous results.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year I wasn't able to make the best pitch to get out of the inning and this past year I was able to do that. I just learned to trust my secondary pitches, and the hitters realized that I would throw any pitch in any count.\"
\r\n
\r\nBannister's cutter has helped him rise to the top of the pitching prospect discussions in the Mets' system, no matter what the fans or the media believe.
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