Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Anthony Banda is a very humble young man who has no regard for the No. 1 status that has been allotted to him within the organization.
“I don’t really care for it, it’s just a list.”
Banda towered over me as I mentioned the term “number one prospect.” Despite being slightly taken aback by the answer, I couldn’t help but be sucked into what the 23-year-old was saying.
“Any given day anyone can come out and play,” he explained. “I don’t let that define me or others with how good or how bad they are.”
This “list” Banda refers to is the top prospect list of the Diamondbacks organization. The left-handed pitcher is pinned at the very top just as much in recognition of his outstanding velocity as some of his specialty pitches.
FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, says Banda “has been up to 96 this spring and has two viable offspeed weapons in his curveball and changeup.”
While he has received mixed reviews on whether those pitches will miss bats, he started working on some of his secondary pitches as spring training came to a close.
“Later on during spring training and coming towards the season I was working on my specialty pitches,” he explained. “I was trying to do different things with the curveball; bouncing it or throwing it behind in the count for a strike or stuff like that. The things that I would do during the season and just refining everything.”
Banda adds he was working on staying down in the zone and mixing everything as well.
The first part of spring training was geared around getting to know the guys. He said he wanted to “see the different routines, and get comfortable with everyone.”
“I think it’s the best thing as a young guy to go into big league camp and just try to bond with the guys and start some chemistry with them.”
The second part during the spring training months was of course concentrated on what he can do on the mound. And the numbers show he has had a lot of success leading up to this moment.
Banda earned a 2.88 ERA across two minor league teams in 2016 with 152 strikeouts in 150 innings. Half of those innings were thrown in the Pacific Coast League, and that’s not an easy league to be in as a pitcher. With the Triple-A Affiliate Reno Aces last season, Banda had a 21.5-percent strikeout rate and batters were hitting just .254 off of him. He was also about average in regards to his WHIP numbers.
As far as what was “being preached” during the spring, the 10th-round pick of the 2012 draft said holding the running game was another aspect of his craft that he was hoping to master.
Beyond the superb numbers, the reputation surrounding Banda as a humble guy certainly rang true.
“It’s an honor, yes, [regarding his placement on the prospect list] but I overlook it as something like an accomplishment and just move on. I continue to do my work and stay in my lane.”
He also says he never forgets where he comes from.
“If you take care of your business, the people around you tend to respect you and like you more,” he laughs. “They see someone that sets an example not only for themselves, but for kids as well. I like to keep my head down and keep working, I hope it feeds off on other guys. We are all here with one goal and that is to be the best player in the big leagues.”
Banda said at big league camp he was “the new guy,” but still maintained a lot of respect from the players he was surrounded by and said spring was bery successful, both on and off the field. And he got a taste of something that he “never wants to go away.”
“They respect it, they love it, they saw that I worked hard and they know I’m coming.”