New York Yankees Editorial: How Should Luis Severino Handle The Hype Of Debut?


Wednesday marks a day that New York Yankees fans have awaited seemingly all season long: Luis Severino‘s debut.  Severino, a top prospect in the Yankees organization, will look to lead a wave of prospects attempting to become fixtures on the Yankees big league roster.

In 2015, Yankees fans have taken an interest in the farm system seemingly more than ever.  The buzz in Yankee Stadium will be interesting to watch as Severino, who has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, steps on a Major League rubber for the first time in what seems to be a promising career, but how should the 21-year-old right-hander handle that hype?

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According to Phil Hughes, a former Yankees top prospect who Jason Giambi famously compared to Roger Clemens, the fans expectations will be high, but Severino must remain level-headed:

"When fans hear comparisons to Pedro and Roger, they expect that from Day 1.  Just get your head somewhere in the middle.  My time in New York was up and down, and it helped to keep my head in the middle.  Don’t get too down and don’t get too high."

The Yankees are hoping that Severino will pitch better than Hughes, who allowed four runs and seven hits, lasting only 4 1/3 innings, and taking the loss.  One scout who has watched Severino pitch often in 2015, where he went a combined 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre, certainly seems to think he will be able to perform expectations, calling Severino the best pitching prospect he has seen all season:

"I love Severino.  He is the best pitching prospect I have seen all year.  The power fastball is around 94 to 96 mph, and he can get it to 97.  The breaking ball and changeup are good.  He is not a physical guy, but everything is quiet.  The changeup is the last pitch to develop, and this year he is using it against left-handed hitters."

Another scout who has watched Severino pitch this year understood why the team wouldn’t trade Severino at the deadline after watching him go 7-0 with a 1.91 in 11 Triple-A starts, noting that Severino should be around for a while:

"He is an excellent prospect with a power arm and potential for plus command and control.  Secondary pitches are impressive.  Provided he stays healthy, he will have a long and successful major league career."

While the Yankees are hoping Severino doesn’t pitch like Hughes did in his debut, they surely would accept a debut similar to that of former-Yankee Dwight Gooden‘s similarly hyped 1982 debut for the crosstown-rival New York Mets.  Gooden, who went five innings allowing just one run and three hits, while picking up five strikeouts in a 3-2 victory versus the Houston Astros, advised Severino to do what has gotten him to this point, but recalled nerves:

"Don’t pay attention to the names on the back of the jerseys.  You are here for a reason, don’t pay too much attention to the scouting reports and pitch to your strengths.  I asked how far the Astrodome was and they said three miles.  I walked and jumped the fence.  The security guards wanted to know what I was doing.  I told them I was pitching for the Mets that night.  That night and the All-Star Game were the most nervous I have ever been, more than the World Series."

More recently, another Met, Noah Syndergaard, debuted on May 12 around similar hype, allowing three runs across 5 1/3 innings, taking the loss against the Chicago Cubs.  Syndergaard’s advice to Severino?  The game is played the same at every level:

"I would tell him it’s basically the same game.  People will tell you that time and time again, but you don’t realize it until you get here.  Until I was warming up at Wrigley, I was real nervous, and then all of a sudden I got out there and it was as normal as ever.  There is always that hype you would like to live up to.  He’s highly touted, and it’s nice to live up to those expectations with that title of being a prospect coming up."

Fans and scouts are excited for the debut of Severino, who is surely soaking up the advice of similarly hyped pitchers who have debuted for New York teams, and the Yankees GM Brian Cashman admitted similar excitement, but added that the organization isn’t expecting Severino to be an ace:

"We are excited, but at the same time he is a young kid.  He is not a finished product, but obviously has talent.  He has a high ceiling.  You hope he helps us every five days and gives us a chance to win.  I wouldn’t expect a number one or number two type starter."

These words sound similar to what the GM said after signing Masahiro Tanaka, and even with injury-related setbacks, that move has worked out well for the team.  While the hype around Severino’s debut could prove to be a distraction, fans are hoping that it will be a strong outing, and the first of many in pinstripes for Severino.

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