Luis Severino, at the ripe age of 17, was signed to a $225,000 signing bonus by the Yankees out of Sabana Del Mar, Dominican Republic. Not much is known about his background due to his international status and relative obscurity, but he began raising eyebrows pretty quickly. He began his professional career in the international complex, pitching in the Domincan Summer League to the tune of a 1.68 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. Here is a briefing on Severino's progress, courtesy of Marc Hulet of FanGraphs:
"Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Severino reached Low-A ball last year and could be a Top 100 prospect in a year’s time if he continues to follow his current development track. The right-hander has power stuff, including a low-to-high-90s fastball, breaking ball and changeup..."
That's a pretty bold prediction considering he will only be turning 20 on February 20th. Some think he is already a rung higher than these projections--Keith Law has him ranked as the ninth best prospect in the Yankee organization. There really isn't much tape available to peek at, but there's a decent one courtesy of Josh Norris of Baseball America from last year's spring training. If you take a look at this video, there's certainly a lot to like. The arm is live and features a great deal of run and velocity readings that are quite good (92-97 mph). There's an issue with his arm recoil which could cause a shoulder or elbow issue in the future, but I wouldn't be surprised if his pitching coaches tried to wean him off of that. All of this development will come in time and he has age on his side, but it's clear that the raw talent exists.
Combined between GCL and Low-A: 44.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 5.30 K/BB
In his brief foray into Low-A Charleston, Severino impressed. Even though he put up a 4.08 ERA in his four starts at that level, the strikeouts and walks remained constant to that of GCL, and his FIP was at 2.24. As I said before: this type of improvement from 2012 put him into the conversation of Top 10 in the Yankee organization.
Barring a complete implosion, Severino will most likely play his entire season at Low-A as a starter, and I'm sure the organization and scouts are interested to see whether he'll continue his improvement over a full season. If he refines his peripheral pitches and command, he will not only jump to the top of the Yankee prospect radar, but will definitely be on any Top 100 list. Severino, at his highest ceiling, has the potential to be a number two or three starter in a major league rotation. At his floor, I think he can be a competent reliever who will at least be able to get by with his dynamic fastball. My fingers are crossed that it's the former, and I'm sure the Yankees' are too. Only time will tell, but I'm very excited to see what he does in a full season of work.