TRENTON – Thunder Manager Tony Franklin handed the ball to his ace and Yankees top-prospect, Luis Severino, for his final start of 2014 on Friday night at Arm & Hammer Park. The 20-year old hurler yielded just one run on five hits with four strikeouts over 4.1 innings of work against the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
“I thought my outing tonight was very good,” Severino said. “I was commanding all of my pitches and keeping my fastball down.”
Severino added, “the strike-zone was very small tonight; I felt like I had to be perfect on every pitch.”
The Dominican-native walked off the mound with two-outs in the fifth inning and left very pleased with his progression and growth in a breakout 2014 campaign that has left the Yankees brass enamored with his potential. Severino went 6-5 overall with a 2.46 ERA over 24 starts spanning three different minor league levels. The electric right-hander pitched 113.1 innings in total, allowing just 93 hits while striking out 127 batters over that span.
“I think that I am a much better pitcher now than I was when I started in April,” admitted Severino. “When I started the year, I was only throwing the ball to the plate. Now, I pitch and can throw a fastball, slider or change-up and command all of my pitches.”
The biggest cog in the accelerated development of Severino can be credited to his slider, which has become an above-average offering that has given opposing hitters fits all season long.
“I am very happy with my slider,” said Severino. “I think that has been my biggest improvement; my breaking pitches and my command have come. I have been working in Low-A, High-A and here in Trenton, on my slider.”
Severino was considered an unknown by most people in baseball, and in his own organization for that matter when the season began. Five months later, Severino is now viewed by many as the crown jewel of the Bombers farm system and his aggressive movement through the system this season is a direct reflection on how quickly the Yankees believe he can impact the top of their major league rotation.
Severino made just four starts for High-A Tampa before being promoted to Trenton in early July. The move caught some off-guard, but Severino admits that the plan was always for him to finish this season at the Double-A level.
“It was my goal to be here,” Severino said. “When the season started, Gil Patterson told me that he wanted me to finish this season in Double-A. He told me to keep working and to keep the ball down and if I did that, I would be here.”
Severino says the tentative plan for him moving forward is to rest for a few days before reporting to the Yankees Instructional League.
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