2016 Statistics: 18 GS, 93 IP, 2.61 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
2016 Level/Roster Status: Low-A/High-A/Non-40
Earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about Domingo Acevedo potentially being a breakout player in the Yankees' system. It wasn't hard to see why, even before farm director Gary Denbo mentioned that he could move quickly.
A starter whose fastball rises into the low-100s at its best and pairs with a nice changeup and developing slider, Acevedo has the makings of an ace. While some evaluators were more bearish on him, Baseball America ranked him number five in the Yankees’ system entering 2016, better than any starter except 2015’s top draft pick, James Kaprielian. Acevedo is a little older than most prospects since he didn't play baseball until he was 16 and was not signed until 19, but the right-hander should not be overlooked (at 6'7", it's hard to do that anyway).
That was a lot of hype for a man who had one start above short-season ball prior to 2016. Outside of Acevedo's health, the results ended up being pretty good. He flat-out dominated in Low-A Charleston over eight starts with a 1.90 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.
That success led to a June promotion to High-A Tampa, where he continued to pitch well despite a few more hits and walks here and there. The final product was a 3.22 ERA, a 9.7 K/9, and a 1.27 WHIP in 10 starts. The Yankees liked it enough to make plans to promote him again to Double-A Trenton in early August.
Unfortunately, those plans could not materialize due to the only major bugaboo of Acevedo's 2016. He was able to make 18 starts, but he still missed a decent chunk of time, hitting the DL on three separate occasions. Back with Charleston, he missed a month due to a lower-body injury, and after consistently making starts for two months as he was promoted, he returned to the DL in early August with a back issue. He missed two weeks, returned for one more start, and then was shut down again, albeit close to his innings limit (he had never thrown more than 50 innings in a season before due to short-season ball and another injury).
While it would have been nice to see Acevedo get a chance at Double-A hitters if not for the injuries, he should receive that shot early next year. He just has to keep his health, which granted will probably never be too easy given his big body. At the very least, his big body means that he has a lot of power in the tank to propel those pitches.
It’s possible that the combination of injuries and up-and-down command despite fine control could make him a reliever in the end, but the Yankees have good reason to really like what Acevedo brings to the table. Keep an eye on him in 2017.