I have been a Domingo Acevedo fan since I saw him pitch for the Staten Island Yankees in 2015. It feels like he has been a prospect forever, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I loved his physical build, at 6’7″, 250 pounds when I saw him. He reminded me of Dellin Betances at the time. Acevedo signed for just a $7,500 signing bonus in October 2012 after being eligible to sign in July of 2010. He did not actually start pitching until he was 16 so he was a little behind the learning curve.
Acevedo owned a mid to high 90s fastball that touched 103, a nice change up and a slider that was a work in progress when I first saw him. In the earlier part of his career he was a starter, but moved to the bullpen full-time last year. It appeared he was suffering a loss of velocity on his fastball and batters were catching up to the change up, while his slider hasn’t fully developed. The velocity has returned in the bullpen and has helped the change up along. This is why I think he could be a bullpen weapon.
Nice changeup from Domingo Acevedo pic.twitter.com/DXRgemt9Kr
— Lucas A (@DBITLefty) February 22, 2020
Acevedo was DFA’d because he had control issues as a starter. After the Yankees brass saw him throwing 100 plus in Charleston for the RiverDogs in 2016, Yankees VP of Player Development at the time, Gary Denbo, and Yankees brass said he was going to move quickly through the organization at the time. After playing in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game and winning Yankees Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Acevedo proved Denbo right when he was called up to the big leagues in July 2018. But the ink had barely dried on the call up transaction when the next day he was back in the minors and hasn’t been in the majors since. The Yankees then showed they were not high on him again in August of 2019 when they released him to free up a 40-man spot.
Domingo Acevedo when he played for the Trenton Thunder. pic.twitter.com/U2xkKM6GzX
— Staton Rabin (@StatonRabin) March 30, 2020
After he was passed on waivers from every other club, the Yankees did re-sign him a few days later. In the bullpen in 2019 his stats weren’t too bad. He was 8-1 with a 4.35 ERA over 32 outings, with 54 strikeouts and 14 walks over 52 1/3 innings. Most of that success was with Double-A Trenton. While with Triple-A Scranton he pitched to a 5.40 ERA over 10 appearances.
So really what went wrong and why do I believe he can still be a weapon moving forward? One of the major issues was health. He was limited to 453 innings over seven seasons due to nine trips to the injured list from 2015-2019. In 2015 he missed a chunk of time with blister issues and again in 2018 he missed six weeks with a blister and ended the season on with a bicep strain. He throws his fastball for strikes and it is a true plus-plus pitch. His delivery and mechanics certainly need some fine-tuning, but it seems to work for him. At this point it is more of a question of whether it is sustainable.
Domingo Acevedo getting in work pic.twitter.com/M3pPhQupTn
— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) July 13, 2020
For 2021 I expect the now 26-year-old to start in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and get a good chance at being put on the 40-man roster or being called up if injuries hit. I believe with his fastball playing up again it will help his curveball. His heater could be a major asset in one inning spurts, and his low three-quarter arm slot could make him deadly against righties in particular. His great fastball and his good change up could be just enough to keep hitters honest and he could become a mid to late inning reliever. If 2020 had been a regular baseball season, he could have started in Triple-A and been added to the 40-man at some point, and potentially called up.
Acevedo needs to focus on command and to finish developing the slider. He needs to work on hitting the corners more consistently as well. He also has to work to keep the ball in the park giving up 1.8 and 2.16 home runs per 9 in AA and AAA in 2019. This is quite the jump from the 0.42 rate he had in AA in 2018 in 64 innings. I’m not calling him a bust just yet but he isn’t going to be the ace that many places thought he would be just a few years ago. I do think he could be an effective mid reliever with the right team. During Spring Training 2020 he looked great flashing his mid to high 90s fastball and a great looking curveball. Having said all that, here’s to 2021 being a very important season for Domingo Acevedo.