Right-hander Luis Severino‘s drop-and-deliver motion was a picture to watch at three levels in 2015.
After going 9-2, 2.45 combined at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, he recorded a 5-3, 2.89 mark with the Yankees and helped the club to the postseason. Aside from the difference of an inch or two and 20 pounds, the 21-year-old (he turns 22 Feb. 20) is a carbon copy of Pedro Martinez.
“I have to say he is a lot like I was,” said Martinez, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last summer.
Severino is an example of exactly what the Yankees have to do in this day and age – develop their own starting pitching and ace. When a David Price gets a contract paying over $30 million a year – and, no offense, Jeff Samardzija, whose overall MLB mark is 47-61 with seven complete games in 131 starts, gets $16 million a year, it’s the only way to go in The Bronx.
This is not to say the Yankees should not go after veteran pitchers who can fill the rotation, but just at what the result of these contracts can be with the prime example C.C. Sabathia.
“Developing your own pitching, especially starting pitching, is what has to be the top priority,” said a scout from a National League East team. “You end up overpaying, for too long because not all that many starters are available.
“Teams sign them when they are young and do their best to hang on to them.”
Frankly, that paints the picture with starting pitching in the majors today. The bulk of a successful big-league rotation, to have any consistency for a contender, has to be home-grown.
And the Yankees have several behind Severino to accomplish this. The two things that are needed are improvement and health.
There are some we really like:
RHP James Kaprelian – Taken with the 16th selection by the Yankees in 2015, Kaprelian, pitching sparingly in the Gulf Coast League and at Staten Island, has the polish to move through the system quickly. He showed improved velocity, with his fastball hitting 95 at times, but his plus-curve is his put-away pitch, bringing strikeouts. Projecting as a mid-rotation (2-3) starter, he will likely begin 2016 at Class-A Charleston. If all goes well, he could end the season at Trenton.
LHP Ian Clarkin – It will be interesting to see how Clarkin progresses in 2016. Elbow issues sidelined him in 2015, but he did get to the mound in the Arizona Fall League and displayed all his pitches. He throws a sinking fastball that sits at 90-92 and produces ground balls, mixed with an effective changeup and a big-breaking curve. He also was taught a cutter by former Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson. Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado liked what he saw of Clarkin in the AFL He’ll likely start at Class-A Advanced Tampa, and if all goes well, join the Thunder sometime in 2016. He profiles as a 2-3 starter as well.
RHP Domingo Acevedo – This native of Villa Los Almacigos in the Dominican Republic opened eyes at Staten Island with a 3-0, 1.69 mark in 11 starts at Staten Island. At 6-foot-7, 19o, he has the stuff to be a No. 1 starter. His fastball has clocked 100, his slider is improving and can be rated a solid pitch. He also has an effective changeup. Evoking images of Michael Pineda, Acevedo has not shown the best stamina, throwing just 48 innings in 11 starts at Staten Island. If he can pitch into the sixth and seventh innings, Acevedo is a top-drawer starting-pitching candidate. The Yankees are hoping that’s the way it goes. He will be 22 during the 2016 season.
RHP Brady Lail – Not a flamethrower, Lail hit enough spots with his four-pitch combination to go 10-6. 2.91 in 28 appearances (27 starts) between Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His fastball will sit at 91-92, but he attacks hitters with a two-seamer that sinks, and effective curve and change. He threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes and allowed just six home runs in 148.1 innings in 2015. Scouts like him and so do the Yankees. He profiles as a 3-4 starter and is ticketed to start 2016 at Scranton.
Others who have shown potential are LHP Jordan Montgomery, who was 10-8, 2.95 between Charleston and Tampa and has a chance to start 2016 at Trenton, and RHP Bryan Mitchell, who would benefit by being a full-time starter. Two coming back from injuries are RHP Austin DeCarr, who had Tommy John Surgery and ought to be back by next June, and RHP Ty Hensley, coming off Tommy John Surgery as well and having dealt with hip surgeries and injuries sustained an assault in the 2014 off-season. He says he is determined to regain his prospect status and make it to the majors, where he originally projected as a front-line starter.
Also impressive at the low levels was LHP Nester Cortes. The native of Hialeah, Fla., was 6-3, 2.28 for the Appalachian League Pulaski Yankees. He ought to be seen at Staten Island in 2016 unless the Yankees push him to Charleston. And there are others.
“Nestor really threw well for us,” said Pulaski manager Tony Franklin. “He has a bright future with the weapons he has on the mound.
If two of the above join Severino in a future Yankees rotation, that would be good. Three would be outstanding. It’s the route the Yankees have to take.