The first three batters Banuelos faced were arguably the three best hitters in the Astros lineup. Jose Altuve doubled, Jason Castro walked and Chris Carter hit a changeup for a three-run homer before Banuelos had gotten a single out.
The 22-year-old left-hander would rebound quickly, striking out George Springer and getting Jesus Guzman to ground out to second base before hitting his pitch limit and being removed for Chase Whitley.
“It was awesome,” Banuelos told reporters after his outing. “I just got the great feelings and all. I almost forgot that. Now I’m just happy.”
Of course, “happy” and “awesome” are relative terms. Banuelos certainly struggled in his first game back from Tommy John surgery, but his fastball was sitting around 93 MPH, which was three or four miles per hour higher than he expected.
"I heard my velocity was good. I heard that and I'm very happy for that," Banuelos said. "And I feel strong, so I've got to make adjustments for the pitches, but I can feel almost like before."
Banuelos, who ranks as the organization's eleventh-best prospect according to Baseball America, also drew the praise of his catcher, Francisco Cervelli, after the outing.
"I know that he's been working so hard because we were together at the [Himes] complex," Cervelli said. "I know the frustration and everything. He was so good. He had the speed, he just needs confidence and he'll be back."