The twenty-two-year-old Dominican native began his career in 2013 playing for the Dominican Summer League and has come a long way since then. After the 2015 regular season ended where he posted a 1.69 ERA and was named the New York Penn League Pitcher of the Year with the Staten Island Yankees, Acevedo then went to play in the Arizona Fall League in which he posted a 2.25 ERA there.
“My offseason was short coming off Fall League,” Acevedo said through the help of a translator. “I didn’t throw much, I just kinda rested the arm, rested the body, and towards the end of the offseason I kinda started getting myself in shape and running and working out hard.”
According to Acevedo, the Fall League helped not only prepare him mentally, but also helped him to see what areas of his game he really needed to focus on in order to preform at the highest level possible here in Tampa.
“I came ready to go," he said of the 2016 season. "I knew what to expect [and] I had a lot more confidence coming in to Spring Training. So when I got here in January I was ready to go, and ready to rise through the ranks.”
And rising the ranks he has. Acevedo is best known for his fastball, a pitch which can hit 100 mph, but as he is starting to become more experienced he is beginning to learn that you need more than just a fastball under your belt to take on hitters at this level. The main pitch Acevedo is currently working on is his slider.
“I’m working on my mechanics, trying to be consistent and repeat the same delivery every time and I’m also really trying to get my slider to be more consistent,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo spent the beginning of the 2016 season in Charleston, in which he received a lot of positive attention, mainly for the velocity and command of his fastball. He once again posted a sub-2.00 ERA [1.90 to be exact], struck out better than a batter per inning pitched, and posted a better than seven to one strikeout to walk ratio.
According to manager Pat Osborn, the reports from Charleston stated that “he was throwing a lot of strikes, and just overmatching other teams with his stuff.” That was a major reason in which he moved up so quickly to Tampa.
Areas in which the Tampa coaching staff would like to see him improve include developing his consistency, holding his running game, and improving his slider to the point where he doesn’t even need to think about it and can just throw it.
“He needs to stay within himself…and limiting the amount of times he comes out of his delivery and tries to do too much," Tampa pitching coach Tim Norton said.
Acevedo feels very blessed by the opportunity and chance that he has be given to move up to Tampa, and looks forward to doing whatever is needed to continue to dominate the way he did in Charleston. Acevedo’s first few starts here in Tampa proved to be fairly successful and a good warmup to see what he would be dealing with here in the Florida State League.
“I felt really great, [and] I felt really at home and ready to go because Tampa is my new home,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo pitched his first career complete game shutout in his previous start in game two of the double-header. Pitching a total of 7 innings, allowing only 5 hits, 73 pitches, 55 strikes, with his fastball velocity sitting around 94-95 mph but reaching as high as 98. His slider and changeup also looked to be showing signs of improvement. He then went out and had a career-high twelve strikeouts in his last outing.
“I feel lucky, very blessed, and thankful to be here, but I’m ready to go to work,” Acevedo said. “It’s another level in the right direction in my career toward the ultimate goal.”
So far Tampa’s coaching staff has really enjoyed working with Acevedo, and believes in the power and ability of him as a pitcher. The areas of his game that need to be improved trace back to mainly developing his pitches and being able to throw three or four good pitches any day of the week not just an overwhelming fastball.
“He’s on the right track, he’s got some things to cleanup here and there, but he’s got the natural gifts to be a really great pitcher,” Osborn concluded.