New York Yankees pitching prospect Luis Severino will make his major league debut tonight against the Boston Red Sox in New York. Here's a quick take on what to expect.
Luis Severino was signed by the Yankees as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He signed for $225,000, a respectable bonus but not an elite one. He performed well in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, posting a 1.68 ERA with a 45/17 K/BB in 68 innings. He remained similarly effective in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic Leagues in 2013, then broke out as one of the elite pitching prospects in baseball in '14, combining for a 2.46 ERA with a 127/27 K/BB in 113 innings at three levels, finishing with six strong starts in the Double-A Eastern League.
He returned to Trenton in 205 with a 3.32 ERA, 48/10 K/BB in 38 innings. Promoted to Triple-A Scranton in May, he's been dominant in the International League, going 7-0, 1.91 in 11 starts with a 50/17 K/BB in 61 innings, allowing only 40 hits. Obviously he has little left to prove in the minors; he fanned 10 with zero walks in six one-hit shutout innings in his last Scranton start.
Severino is a 6-0, 190 pound right-hander born February 20, 1994. Pre-season reports noted a 93-97 MPH (occasionally higher) fastball with an excellent change-up and an improving slider. Current reports are similar, and while the slider is still a third pitch for him, it has improved enough for him to manage Triple-A without difficulty. Indeed, steady improvement has been Severino's hallmark. As Kiley McDaniel noted this spring, Severino's mechanics were rather raw and his change-up seldom-used when he first came to rookie ball, but he's added considerable polish to his game over the last two years, with cleaner mechanics and a more diverse arsenal.
Some observers think Severino will be a reliever in the long run due to his lack of traditional right-hander height, but he looks like a starter to me. He has three quality pitches, he's a good athlete who has stayed healthy thus far, his command is solid enough, and he has the mound presence of a much more experienced pitcher.
No young pitcher comes with a guarantee, but Severino's sabermetric and traditional indicators are positive. It's time for him to get a shot.