Luis Severino lived up to his billing as the top prospect in the New York Yankees’ organization Wednesday at Coca Cola Field.
The 21-year-old right-hander kept hitters off balance with a 95 mph fastball and earned his first Triple-A victory, leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a 7-2 victory over the Buffalo Bisons.
Severino, a product of the Dominican Republic who the Yankees signed as a 17-year-old, faced just one batter over the minimum through the first five innings. He was relieved in the sixth. He gave up two runs on four hits, with four strikeouts in 5∑ innings.
“He attacked the zone real good, used all of his pitches, went right after guys,” said RailRiders pitching coach Scott Aldred. “He made it look easy for the first five.”
Speculation has Severino headed for the Yankees’ roster later this season or by Opening Day 2016 at the latest.
More outings like Wednesday likely will earn him a promotion this year.
Severino relies on a big-league fastball that tops out at about 97 mph. It tends to run in a bit on right-handers. He also has a big-league change up, which he throws with the same motion as the fastball. His third pitch is a slider, which still is a work in progress, but that looked good against the Herd.
“He throws so hard, and his changeup looks a lot like his fastball,” said Scranton catcher Austin Romine. “It’s really deceptive. It makes them have to guess.”
Severino struck out Sean Ochinko on three pitches in the third inning, throwing a 94 mph fastball, then getting swings on 84 and 79 mph off-speed pitches. He did the same to Brad Glenn in the fourth, forcing Glenn to swing way ahead of the third strike. He fanned Alex Hassan looking to end the fifth with a wicked, 95 mph fastball at the knees.
“I felt really good,” Severino said. “The first couple innings I was ahead in the count always. The last inning I tried to throw strikes but couldn’t find my spot. . . . I felt very comfortable with my changeup and my slider.”
At 6-foot, 195 pounds, Severino is not huge. So he’s going to have to prove his durability. But he has made a steady march up the minors. He saw time at three levels in 2014, compiling a 2.47 earned-run average and striking out 127, tops in the Yankee farm system. In eight games with Double-A Trenton early this year, he held hitters to a .227 average.