As first reported by Josh Norris, the Yankees are pushing their top pitching prospect up to Double-A.
Luis Severino will move up to Trenton after the All-Star break. He just turned 20 in February and opened this season in Charleston, but Severino has pitched even better since a mid-June promotion to Tampa, and he will now be challenged by Double-A hitters after pitching in Sunday’s Futures Game.
“I don’t know if it’s aggressive on our part,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “He’s pitched extraordinarily well at two levels. … Our measurements, we break down video on every single pitch he throws as we do with every one of our pitchers, and he’s been extraordinary.”
Typical statistics show that Severino’s ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate have all improved since moving up to Tampa, and Newman said the Yankees internal metrics are showing the same thing. It’s been only four starts, but Severino’s been even better since getting to Tampa, and so he’s moving up to Trenton. Doesn’t always happen this quickly — in fact, it rarely happens this quickly — but the Yankees seem especially encouraged by this kid. Newman said he pitches at 94-95, touches 99 mph and can also throw breaking balls for strikes when behind in the count.
“Good stuff and he can pitch; very calm,” Newman said. “… There will be bumps in the road. Everyone, except maybe Derek Jeter — Derek’s bumps in the road were when he was an 18 year old rookie, after that he had a pretty clean path — but (Severino)’s dominated two levels this year, so we’re going to move him up.”
A few other notes after a very quick conversation with Newman:
“He’s going to challenge some guys,” Newman said. “He’s a center fielder. He’s a corner guy. He’ll provide some competition for the guys that are there.”
Newman said that, at this time, none of those Trenton outfielders will be demoted to Tampa. Specifically, he said that Mason Williams is staying in Trenton. But Newman also made it clear that Cave will see time in center field as well as the two corners. Williams has a .557 OPS and Tyler Austin has a .667, each being generally outperformed by left fielder Ben Gamel who has a .709.
Cave is a 21-year-old former sixth-round pick who lost a year to injury but has been a good top-of-the-order guy the past two years. This season he’s had a .304/.354/.395 slash line with 10 stolen bases in Tampa. Trenton has been carrying only three true outfielders, so Cave could make it something of an outfield rotation with guys getting turns at DH.
Triple-A pitching staff getting some help
Well know the big league pitching staff has been short-handed occasionally this season, and that’s had a trickle-down effect with the Triple-A staff sometimes feeling the impact of shipping guys up and down to plug the big league holes. Well, after the break, the Triple-A staff is getting some help.
Bryan Mitchell and Matt Tracy will move up from Double-A to take spots in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation, and lefty Tyler Webb will move up and into the Triple-A bullpen. A 10th-round pick in 2013, Webb had a 1.17 WHIP between High-A and Double-A.
“He throws strikes, he misses bats, he gets left-handed hitters out,” Newman said. “That’s a pretty good combo.”
Refsnyder still considered a second baseman
Exactly one week ago, Triple-A second baseman Rob Refsnyder got a start in right field and went on to play three straight games out there before moving back to second base for the last few games before the All-Star break. Refsnyder was converted to second base in pro ball, but he played right field in college.
“Were just trying to maintain that skill,” Newman said. “He’s still primarily a second baseman for us as we look toward the future. … He’s going to play a few games out there (in the outfield) occasionally. Gives him another way to get to the big leagues. Gives us the flexibility to deal with problems that arise in the future.”
Right now it’s pretty easy to look at the Yankees big league lineup and see the potential for playing time at either right field or second base. Refsnyder is making himself an option at either spot, but the Yankees remain encouraged by what they’ve seen from him in the infield.
“That is not in any way related to his defensive performance at second base,” Newman said.
Odds and ends
• Newman said that last year’s top pick, Eric Jagielo, is being activated from the High-A disabled list today. He hasn’t played for Tampa since May 20 because of an oblique injury. He spent basically the past two weeks playing rehab games in rookie ball. He homered there on Monday.
• Also playing rookie league rehab games right now is Charleston shortstop Abiatal Avelino, who’s probably the top shortstop prospect in the system. Newman said Avelino will play a few more GCL games before being activated in Charleston. He’s been out since May 10 with a quad injury.
• Easily overshadowed and overlooked this season, Austin Romine is starting to hit again in Triple-A. He had a two-hit, three-RBI game at the end of June, and he’s hit .400/.419/.567 in his first 30 at-bats of July. He’s getting time at catcher and first base. “Now he’s getting at-bats and he’s swinging it well, so that’s been a nice plus,” Newman said.
• Asked for other players who stand out to him at the break, the first two names that jumped to Newman’s head shouldn’t come as much surprise: Aaron Judge (who continues to rake since moving up to Tampa) and Ian Clarkin (who’s finally healthy and pitching well in Charleston). Newman also mentioned Jose Pirela and some of the other Triple-A position players.
• The Yankees officially announced today that right-handed pitcher Brady Lail and left-handed pitchers Jacob Lindgren and Caleb Smith have been promoted from Charleston to Tampa.
Associated Press photo of Severino