Tonight the New York Yankees send young right-hander Luis Severino to the mound in the American League Wild Card game against the Minnesota Twins and veteran Ervin Santana. Severino had an outstanding regular season, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 193 innings, with a 230/51 K/BB, a massive change from his difficult 2016 campaign.
Severino is still just 23 years old. Here’s a look at what he was like as a prospect.
The Yankees signed Severino out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 for $225,000. He performed well in the 2012 Dominican Summer League then again in rookie ball in 2013. Here’s the report I wrote on him entering 2014:
The Yankees signed Severino out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He had a fine 2013 season, dominating the Gulf Coast League then holding his own after being moved up to Low-A Charleston in August. This doesn’t look like a fluke: he’s got quality stuff including a 92-97 MPH fastball, a slider, and a changeup. Both secondary pitches are inconsistent but promising, which of course is normal for pitchers his age. His early career statistics are sharp, with good or better component ratios. I like the way he maintained his solid K/BB ratio even after being promoted to full-season ball. Severino has the ability to be a mid-rotation starter if he makes further progress with his secondary pitches. He could leap up prospect lists this year, so keep a close eye on him. Grade B-.
Indeed, Severino made that leap in ‘14, posting a 2.46 ERA in 113 innings between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A, with an excellent 127/27 K/BB. I thought he was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and filed this report for 2015:
Looks like a legitimate breakout here. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Severino pitched well in limited action in 2013 then brought that forward to a strong complete season in 2014, thriving at three levels. He has velocity on the fastball at 93-97 MPH, sometimes as high as 98. His change-up improved dramatically last year and now rates as plus. His slider also progressed although it isn’t quite as good as the change-up and could use more consistency, though that could just be nitpicking. Ultimately he should have three plus pitches and impressive command of everything. Basically, the scouting reports are excellent and the numbers are excellent too. Makeup is said to be excellent as well. The only thing he needs to prove is holding up under a full workload, though his athleticism and pitch efficiency should help him do that. Ultimate upside is at least a strong number three starter, maybe more, provided he stays healthy and doesn’t backslide with the command of course. Grade B+.
He ranked 14th on my list of Top 50 pitching prospects entering 2015.
As you now, Severino made 11 starts in the majors in 2015, moving past rookie status and impressing the league with a 2.89 ERA in 62 innings, 56/22 K/BB. Alas, his 2016 season was marred by injuries and inconsistency but he righted the ship in ‘17, running up a 5.7 fWAR.
Severino has established that he can pitch like an ace, making the “maybe more” comment in the last scouting report credible. The question now is long-term durability, which is still up in the air.
Personally, I tend to optimism with this one.