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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Luis Severino

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This once-unknown amateur signing is now the top pitching prospect in the farm system and a Top 50 talent overall. That will do adequately.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A+

2014 Statistics: 2.79 ERA (2.70 FIP), 67.2 IP w/ Low-A; 1.31 ERA (1.55 FIP), 20.2 IP w/ High-A; 2.52 ERA (2.27 FIP), 25 IP w/ Double A

2014 Level/Roster Status: Double-A/Non 40-man

I think most people that follow Yankees prospects agreed that Luis Severino was an intriguing player. He had impressed with his dynamic stuff in his first two seasons with the organization, but I think we could all agree that his stuff was very raw. At 20 years old though, he had plenty of time to refine his craft, and I figured they would give him a year per level given how young he was. That was grossly conservative, as he rocketed up to Double-A by the second half of the season and now finds himself on the fast-track to the Bronx.

I wrote a season outlook for Severino way back in February, and I stated:

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.

That isn't to toot my own horn, but it is to say that this was the 90th percentile outcome. I was probably being too optimistic that a young kid with one good pitch would be that good, but he has been. He started off the year in Charleston and quickly dominated day after day before the team realized that they couldn't hold him back--he needed a new challenge as he was promoted to High-A on June 15. And even after that, there wasn't much for the organization to see. Just one month later (to the day!), he was promoted to Double-A. He was so good, in fact, that he was named to the World Team of the MLB Futures Game and pitched a scoreless inning. And in that scoreless inning, he struck out top prospect Joey Gallo on this nasty, filthy slider:

Severino_Gallo_K

I'll be watching that all offseason. You can check out the whole video here.

And even after being promoted to Double-A, he was still dominant. Double-A is often the hardest transition for young pitchers, but he met the challenge. As he kept rolling, he started popping up on midseason top prospects lists. Baseball America ranked him 34th, and Baseball Prospectus 48th. BP had the following to say about him:

There is still some debate about whether his future is in the rotation or out of the pen, but if his slider comes along as his changeup has, the odds of him sticking as a starter will greatly increase. No matter which way you view his future role, Severino is a legit talent and one of the most enjoyable arms to watch in any farm

He finished off his season strong at Double-A as he pitched six starts at the level, racking up 29 strikeouts in 25 innings, a SO/BB ratio of 4.83, and an ERA of 2.52. He's also 4.6 years younger than the average Double-A player, by the way.

Luis Severino is a resounding success for a farm system that has lacked talent and legitimate upside, especially since the Yankees have not produced a top-tier starting pitcher since Andy Pettitte (or Chien-Ming Wang, depending on your qualifications). At such a low cost, he has already paid for himself and then some; he already possesses a great deal of trade value before even touching the soil at Yankee Stadium. There are still real concerns about his ability to pitch in the rotation--so I would keep expectations tempered--but he has been one of the most exciting prospects to watch in a while. If going from an unknown to top prospect isn't an A+, then I don't know what is.