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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No.9, Anthony Banda

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays made a surprising move when they shipped Steven Souza Jr to Arizona, but the returns certainly have high ceilings, including the next guy on our list.

No.9, LHP Frank Anthony Banda, 24 yrs old

Born: August 10th, 1993 in Corpus Christi, TX

Height/Weight: 6’2” 190 lbs Bats/Throws: L/L

Signed: by the Brewers for $125K after being selected in the 10th rd of the 2012 Draft

Twitter handle: @anthony_banda3

Twitter profile statement: “Texas Born/Raised”

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 27th best Brewers prospect post-2013
  • Ranked as the 17th best DBacks prospect post-2014
  • Ranked as the 15th best DBacks prospect post-2015
  • Ranked as THE best DBacks prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the best 10th best Southern League prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the best 20th best Pacific Coast League prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 2nd best DBacks prospect post-2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 7th
  • Low: 12th

Anthony Banda: Abilities

  • Plus Fastball
  • Above-average curve
  • Improving Change
  • Developing Command

Grades for ‘18 (Pipeline): FB: 60 | CU: 55 | CH: 45 | Ctl: 50 | Overall: 50

  • Abilities notes: The 2017 season was the first that had Banda working more consistently in the mid-90s and it seemed to impact his command. With more experience working at that velocity, and more stamina and strength, it’s possible that he’s better able to command his pitches in 2018.

Joined the Rays by way of....

Trade, as part of the return for Steven Souza Jr.

Oddly enough, Banda has originally been drafted by the DBacks in 2011 in the 33rd rd but did not sign. Instead, the Brewers drafted and signed him in the 10th rd of the 2012 draft. They wound up trading Banda and Mitch Haniger in July of 2014 to the DBacks in return for Gerardo Parra.

Latest Transaction: optioned to Durham Bulls March 18th, 2018.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Looks can be deceiving if you think he looks chill on the mound, as he notes,

“I always pitch with a chip on my shoulder,” “Even though it doesn’t look like it, I have a chip in my shoulder.”

Stats

Anthony Banda 2017

GP 30
GP 30
GS 26
IP 147.2
W 10
L 10
Sv (SvO) 0 (1)
H 151
BB 61
SO 141
HR 16
AvgA 0.261
Whip 1.430
BAbip 0.317
LOB% 65.1%
GB% 39.1%
FB% 36.4%
HR/FB% 9.1%

Stats Notes: Te.

Interesting Comparison: Robbie Ray

Oddly enough, the best comp for Anthony is an ex-fellow DBack. Both Ray and Banda stand 6’2” and are southpaws, weighing in just under 200 lbs. Both rely on their fastballs, and while Ray took longer to develop his curve, it has now become his most used secondary pitch along with his slider.

They also have similar velocity on their FB which helps the comp, both working in the 94-95 MPH range. Their curves also work in the 80-82 MPH range.

The main difference between these two has been a deeper arsenal for Ray and slightly better overall control. That’s allowed him to make it to MLB at a faster pace, giving him experience in MLB across four seasons while only being two years older than Banda.

Having said that, Banda’s come to the right place to improve both the depth and quality of his arsenal since the main pitch that could help him achieve higher levels is the change- up. Should he turn that into an above-average weapon, he has the ability to match what Ray has accomplished to this point and possibly exceed it. Banda also has begun working on a slider.

Carl Gonzalez (@CarlGonz97) recently wrote a more in-depth comparison of the two here - worth the read!!!

Notes for 2018 and beyond

It’s taken a while to get Banda this far, but the wait may be well worth it. Armed with a plus fastball and above-average curve, it would seem short-sighted to simply give up on him as a starter, particularly when his change shows so much promise.

The Rays are one of the better teams at developing change-ups, so there’s a good chance that they’ll continue using Banda as a starter for a long time yet. While some also like him as a two or three inning reliever, his ceiling with a well-developed change is much higher.

With the Rays aggressively pushing the use of the splitter recently, most notably with Ryne Stanek and Yonny Chirinos, there’s a chance the Rays look to add that to his repertoire as well.

Sometimes a change of scenery does a player some good, and this could be the case for Banda. While pitching in Reno and with the DBacks, he seemed to struggle with his command and wound up allowing more hits than people anticipated as a result. That drove his stock down, but also provided an opportunity for the Rays, who hope that after a few adjustments the team and Banda will strike gold.

A LHP with his velocity and with two pitches that grade above-average places his ceiling high enough that Banda could be an asset either as a starter or a reliever. We’re also sure to see Banda pitch for the Rays often in 2018 as he’s already a fairly polished product. The Rays have recently used Ryan Yarbrough and Chirinos in middle relief to ease them into MLB. There’s no guarantee they’ll do the same with Banda, but it’s a strong possibility as he may be on what some call “the shuttle” between Tropicana and Durham.

If he is to earn a permanent spot in the rotation, Banda will have to show better command than he managed in 2017 and perhaps a more polished change-up. With those improvements, he could provide the Rays with yet another high-octane LHP to go with Blake Snell, Yarbrough, and Jose Alvarado.

Anthony Banda: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list