Severino Pitching With Conviction

TRENTON, NJ - Considering how hard he throws and with the numbers he's amassed thus far in his career it's a little tough to see that right-hander Luis Severino does in fact still have a number of things to work on. His command can still improve and his secondary pitches also are not finished products, but what is very encouraging is that he's pitching with conviction at a very young age.

When the Yankees signed Luis Severino from the Dominican Republic in 2012 they knew they were getting someone who could bring a lot of value to the organization as a pitcher.

Severino started out at the rookie level in the organization’s farm system but quickly kept ascending to the next level due to his great productivity and potential. His career stats in the minors are nothing short of incredible; a 15-9 record with a 2.18 ERA in 231.2 innings pitched while striking out an astonishing 239 batters.

Even though he is not the biggest guy in the clubhouse - measuring in at an six feet tall and weighing in at 195 pounds - Severino more than makes up with his high velocity fastball and a very good changeup. That combination alone has many label him as the organization’s top prospect.

But despite all the hype he is getting from fans and those within from the organization, Trenton Thunder manager Al Pedrique thinks that Severino still needs to work on some things in his pitching, especially with his slider.

"He still needs to work on that slider," Pedrique said, "but if he can get his control to work and he works hard on it, then it’s going to be a good pitch. He’ll keep working on the slider and the changeup, and he just needs to keep the ball low and moving around the plate."

While his slider is good and improving, it still seems like a work in a progress more so than a finished product when watching him. He isn’t afraid of throwing it, which is a good sign at this point in his career, but he still doesn’t quite have the consistent command for it to be a major league pitch right now.

What has been working for him so far is some of the key components that doesn’t show up in a stat sheet but are essential to being a successful pitcher. His consistency in attacking the strike zone and working the count are just some of those things.

"If he maintains those things he’s going to be fine," Pedrique said. "He’s been working very hard with Rosado throughout Spring Training on maintaining his strong mechanics, which are fine at this point."

Although his changeup command is very good according to Pedrique, it could still improve. Rosado agrees and when talking about his slider, he doesn’t want to push Severino too hard and wants his feel for the pitch to be comfortable.

"I think his slider is becoming more of a consistent weapon," Rosado said. "Before I ask him if it’s getting better or not, I just go by how he feels. Does he have confidence or not? Just by gaining confidence in the pitch, eventually I think it will turn into a very good pitch."

Even with all that said, Severino is also a pitcher who can still get batters out, even in high pressured situations. He is able to make great adjustments, especially when moving up in the level of competition. He was with five different teams total in 2013 and 2014, cementing his status as not just one of the organization’s best prospects, but one of the fastest rising young pitching prospect in all of baseball.

As for Severino himself, he feels very confident that the slider is close to being a big weapon in his pitching repertoire. He also thinks that he’s far and above a better pitcher now than he was a year ago.

"Last year, I was trying too hard make each pitch perfect, but I’ve been getting better in my control,” Severino said.

According to Severino, the more time and experience he gets, the more his confidence grows. In his first start at Akron, Severino said that he was very confident in his pitches which translated well in his performance. Facing 16 batters, especially on the road, the 21-year old struck out eight batters and allowed only one hit and no earned runs.

Pitching Coach Jose Rosado expects such great outings from Severino, who is only getting better at this point.

"I expect him to go out there and compete," Rosado said. "He knows the plan and that is to get to the Major Leagues. I expect him to go out there every time and throw his pitches with conviction."

The highly touted pitcher isn’t someone who simply relies on natural ability. When he was with the Yankees during Spring Training, Severino asked his older and more experienced teammates on how to improve as a pitcher and as a baseball player.

He’s also someone that wants to be a team player and get along with everyone in the clubhouse. In Trenton, he keeps a good relationship with catcher Gary Sanchez, another fellow Dominican. On Sunday against the Portland Sea Dogs, when both players were starting, they were in constant communication, trying to improve not just one another, but also help the team win.

That communication proved effective during the second inning of the game when Severino managed to get two-outs after loading the bases thanks in part to two walks he allowed in the inning. His fastball had consistency in its speed. He regularly threw 94 mph with his fastball and it ranged from 92-96 mph against the Sea Dogs, whom he struck six batters out while allowing only one run [his only run of the season].

Even if he’s only had two starts this season with the Thunder, the numbers more than speak for Severino’s talent. He’s only allowed one earned run, three hits and struck out 14 batters in just 10 innings of work.

Severino seems to be poised for a bright future and Rosado said that if all goes well, he is going to be a very good pitcher for years to come.

"This is a guy that when I first saw him in the GCL, I saw a bright future in him," Rosado said. "It’s just a matter of time and if he’s able to stay healthy, keep improving, I expect him to be great.”

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