Domingo Acevedo’s 2017 was so good, it earned him the Yankees’ Kevin Lawn award, which recognizes the top hitter and pitcher in the organization. Now, it’s a matter of taking the next step for the big guy, who was originally billed as a flamethrower. He didn’t exactly showcase a 100-mph fastball in his two starts with the RailRiders last year, but he did show he can be more of a pitcher than a thrower.

The basics

Position: RHP
Throws: Right
Age: 24
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 250 pounds
40-man? Yes
Acquired: Signed with a reported bonus of $7,500 in October 2012.

2017 season

So, what did Acevedo do to earn the title of best pitcher in the Yankees’ farm system? He spent most of the season with Double-A Trenton, where he went 5-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 14 starts. Overall, he was 6-6 with a 3.25 ERA. In 133 innings, he surrendered 126 hits, struck out 142 and walked only 34. He made two spot starts with the RailRiders — one pretty good (June 16 at Buffalo: 7 ip, 3 h, 1 r, 5 bb, 4 k) and one not so great (June 21 vs. Syracuse: 5.1 ip, 9 h, 5 r, 3 bb, 4 k). His eight walks in 12.1 innings is super uncharacteristic for Acevedo based on his career numbers. Over five pro seasons, he averages 2.4 walks per nine innings and 9.8 strikeouts per nine.

Why 12?

This is something a little bit different than what’s been done with this list. Below, Donnie Collins and I discuss why Acevedo lands at No. 12, what we like about him and what might need some work.

CF: Ok, Domingo Acevedo. Is it crazy to think a guy with a 2.82 ERA at Double-A is almost going unnoticed in this system?

DC: When I saw he won the Yankees’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award the other day, I was stunned because I just kind of assumed his numbers must’ve been subpar. That’s how little attention he got as the season went on.

CF: I thought the same thing. And then I saw the numbers and … yeah, he deserves it. I think some of the hype might have been cooled by the rough futures game outing. That, and the fact that he doesn’t throw 100+ mph every pitch, which is what the scouting reports would’ve led you to believe. But when we saw him at PNC Field, it was like “Oh, he’s not a flamethrower. He’s a pitcher.” I liked what I saw a lot.

DC: Same here. Those scouting reports that you see in BA and some of the other places sometimes don’t do the players any favors. Can a guy like Acevedo lean back and fire the ball 100 mph? Probably. Has he done it on occasion or two? Maybe. But he sits at 92-95 and he has some secondary stuff. I kind of liked what I saw in the couple of outings he had here because he did show some progression from the days when he really was just a thrower. Remember, he’s still kind of new to pitching and Triple-A is a rather advanced league.

CF: I think Dellin Betances’ success kind of started a cookie cutter thing for some guys in the Yankees system. Big guy?! Throws hard?! Good breaking ball?! He’s the next Betances!! Sweet! I think Acevedo and even Frecier Perez to extent got swept up in that. But with Acevedo, I see him way more as a starter than a reliever. On paper, his control looks crazy good. But, that’s another thing you kind of want to see in person.

DC: That’s one of the things I think you can knock on him, really. What I saw last year was that he throws strikes. But there’s a difference between throwing strikes and throwing good strikes, and Acevedo needs to more consistently hit the corners and get eyes moving around the zone. That’s how he’ll start to miss more bats, and that’s how his stuff is going to play best.

CF: We’ve seen that with so many guys, where the walks are super low and it turns out they’re just throwing strikes, but not good strikes. And, with the big guys, you do like to see that they can throw the ball over the plate. In the limited action we saw Acevedo, it looked like he had a feel for pitching. Plus, you know how much I love a good changeup.

DC: People have to remember he didn’t start pitching until he was 16, so he has only been an actual baseball player for 8 years. There are middle school kids right now who’ve been pitching longer. I think he is pretty advanced, all things considered. And he has really developed that changeup. Which, all pitchers should. Not enough guys have it, and the Yankees have been really focusing on pitchers who have a feel for the change in recent years.

CF: That’ll happen when you face the Rays so many times in a season. I’ll be interested to see if they push Acevedo to SWB right out of spring, or if they keep him in Double-A for a little more seasoning. He pitched for the Trenton work group the other day, but he was also lined up on the same day as Chance Adams. Actually, he might just lose out in a numbers game for an SWB rotation spot.

DC: I’d imagine he goes back to Trenton for a month to focus on command and developing that slider. There’s no real reason to start him here, with so many other options. He has a way to go and he is 24. I do wonder if there comes a point where the Yankees look at him more as a 24-year-old and less like someone who is still learning. But they can afford to be patient right now. They need to put him in a position where he can come up to Triple-A and stay there this time.

Associated Press and Times-Tribune photos