Last year, Domingo Acevedo had a breakout season. The young flame-thrower posted a 2.61 ERA across 93 innings pitched. He paired a dynamic fastball — one that could reach triple-digit radar gun readings — with a quality changeup and a work-in-progress slider. The only drawback to his season came in form of the injury bug, limiting him to just 18 starts. Many wondered if he could stay healthy and build on his 2016 campaign. For the most part, he did just that.
Acevedo’s season got off to an inauspicious start at High-A Tampa. He pitched to a 4.57 ERA across 41.1 innings. This wasn’t the case of one disaster start skewing the numbers, either. He had four clunkers in a seven game stretch. To call this surprising was an understatement. After all, he owned a 3.22 ERA at the level last year. His peripherals looked good, he did manage a 3.17 FIP with an 11.32 K/9, but the results didn’t come.
Nonetheless, the Yankees trusted their right-hander and promoted him to Double-A Trenton on May 19th. Acevedo pitched brilliantly with the Thunder. Over 79.1 innings, he managed a dominant 2.38 ERA with a 3.19 FIP. He also maintained a strong strikeout rate, running up an impressive 9.30 K/9.
This performance landed him a spot on Team World during the MLB Futures Game. Acevedo struggled in Miami, though. He allowed three runs on four hits in his only inning of work. The slider that he spent so much time working on failed him.
He also labored through two starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Acevedo surrendered six runs over 12.1 innings, which works out a 4.38 ERA with the RailRiders. The Yankees reassigned him back to Double-A where he finished the year. The club shut him down to manage his workload following a start on August 17th.
Two key positives emerged from Acevedo’s season. First, he stayed healthy. That is a big deal for the oft-injured pitcher. His 133 innings pitched stands out as a career high. It also sets him up for a step forward next year. The other is that his stuff returned following injuries. His trademark fastball, complete with pinpoint location, carried over into the 2017 campaign.
The drawback with Acevedo comes down to his trajectory. Many scouts believe his future is limited to the bullpen due to his erratic delivery. “He's got the starter's frame but the mechanics are … not what you see out of high-workload starters,” said prospect expert Craig Goldstein. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a further refined secondary pitch, Keith Law believes he could be an elite reliever.
While some of the results didn’t show up, it’s hard not to like what Acevedo did this season. He kept ringing up strikeouts with overpowering stuff. He also stayed healthy and increased his workload by 40 innings. You can’t go wrong there. Expect him to be in the mix for a bullpen role or spot start next year.