Royals acquire Brian Bannister

Royals acquire Brian Bannister

The Royals announced on Wednesday that they have traded reliever Ambiorix Burgos to the New York Mets for right-handed starter Brian Bannister.

The Royals have made the acquisition of starting pitchers the offseason's primary goal, and the addition of Bannister has yielded them a young pitcher who figures to compete for a spot in the 2007 rotation. Bannister, the 25-year-old son of former Royals pitcher Floyd Bannister, won a spot in the Mets' 2006 rotation out of spring training and pitched well before being sidelined with a severe hamstring strain in April. It was a slow recovery for Bannister, and he re-injured the hamstring while rehabbing in the minors. He did, however, make it back in time for the Mets' playoff stretch run in September, and he finished the season with a 2-1 record and a 4.26 ERA. In 38.0 IP with the Mets, Bannister struck out 19 batters while walking 22.

Despite his high walk total in his rookie season, Bannister gained a reputation as an excellent control pitcher in the minors. Drafted out of USC in the 7th round of the 2003 draft, Bannister compiled a minor league record of 29-19 with a 3.28 ERA in 397.1 IP, spanning four seasons. He maintained a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1, fanning 351 batters while walking just 111.

Bannister throws four pitches: a fastball that runs from 88-92 mph, along with a curve, change, and cutter. His true 12-to-6 curveball is his primary out pitch, although he also made great strides with his cutter after adding it to his repertoire prior to the 2005 season. Word is that the 6'-2", 210 lbs. Bannister holds back some on his four-seam fastball velocity in order to pinpoint his control, but he has more velocity when he needs it. Scout.com's Inside Pitch Magazine ranked Bannister as the Mets' fifth-best prospect this offseason.

The trade closes the book on Burgos' two-year career with the Royals. After flashing promising numbers as a rookie in 2005, his command regressed in 2006, and he had problems controlling his split-fingered fastball. During his two seasons with the Royals, Burgos had a 7-10 record with a 4.81 ERA. In 136.2 Major League innings pitched, he has struck out 137 batters while walking 68.

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