Name: Domingo Acevedo
DOB: March 6, 1994
Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Slider.
Fastball. Nobody has a better fastball than Acevedo at the minor league level and it may already even be on par with the elite fastballs on the planet. Not only does he average 95-97 mph early in games and earlier in seasons but he can sit even higher the deeper he gets, and routinely tops out in the 100-102 mph range. Forget about the sheer plus-plus velocity either, considering it's late-life explosion and heavy nature, not to mention it being thrown downhill from a 6-foot-7 frame, his fastball is elite in just so many ways. If there is one negative [and we're just splitting hairs here] to his fastball is the rather average command he has of it in the zone but considering his control is way above average to the point where he can throw a ton of strikes it is a negative that has so little effect on his overall game. He has a special fastball, period!
Other Pitches. Aiding the effectiveness of Acevedo's elite plus-plus fastball is his changeup. It is a true plus pitch, showing great fade and depth, and just like his fastball he can throw it for strikes at will. He uses it as both a contact out-pitch and a strikeout pitch to both righties and lefties, and he will throw it in any count. Where Acevedo has shown a weakness to date in his development is with his breaking ball. Once a non-existent pitch, his slider has slowly but surely gotten better in recent years, going from average a year ago to a tick above average in 2016. It has even more room to get better too, showing long-term plus potential considering the exceptionally high swing-and-miss rate he got with it towards the final weeks of the 2016 season. It sits in the 85-88 mph range and it's oh-so close to having the consistent break he and the coaches would like.
Pitching. At his core Acevedo is a power pitcher with innate strike-throwing ability and natural aggressiveness. He goes right after batters with strikes early and often, and has the kind of fearless attitude where he doesn't shy away from contact. In fact, in many respects he is looking for early count contact so he and his team get back into the dugout as soon as possible to score some runs. He has averaged better than a strikeout per inning pitched over his career and considering how hard he throws most pundits believe him to be a strikeout pitcher when in actuality he prides himself more on being a ground ball type pitcher, albeit one who has the kind of stuff to put away batters the deeper he gets into counts. As big as he is he has an ability to 'stay small' and short in his delivery, and it not only helps with a consistent delivery and throwing strikes but holding runners somewhat close too [it's not an automatic steal against him, which should be the case considering his wingspan]. He is so big and strong too that he is the ideal workhorse, showing a great ability to sustain his power deep into starts and into seasons too.
Projection. As big as he is, as hard as he throws, and wearing a Yankees cap like he does has most people conjuring up images of a young Dellin Betances type when watching Acevedo. While all that of that is true, the fact is Acevedo is comparably much further along in his development at similar points in their respective careers from a delivery and strike-throwing standpoint, and it gives Acevedo a huge leg up on fulfilling his big league starting potential; there's an apt comparison size-wise and stuff-wise, but that's where the comparison ends. A bit more Noah Syndergaard-like [although Acevedo is two inches taller], Acevedo is a premier strike-throwing, elite power pitcher with two secondary pitches that not only continually get better but show almost a limitless ceiling of their own. And like Syndegaard there will be days where he is completely unhittable and other days where he'll only be as good as his mechanics and secondary pitches, and one who should be better out of the delivery than pitching with runners on base. Acevedo projects to be a sure-fire front-half of the rotation big league starting pitcher just as long as he stays healthy.
ETA. 2018. Acevedo has battled minor nagging injuries each of the past two seasons and it has pumped the brakes ever so slightly on his development. If he begins the 2017 campaign with the same slider he had at the end of last season there's really no telling how quickly he could get to the big leagues. It really is the final piece in his developmental puzzle. For now, however, whether he begins the season back in high-A Tampa or not [he has just 94 long-season league innings in his career], he should see ample Double-A time this coming season and some Triple-A exposure [or potentially higher] is not out of the realm of possibility.