Domingo Acevedo Shines In Double-A Debut

TRENTON, N.J.—The first thing you notice about Domingo Acevedo when he’s on the mound isn’t his blazing fastball, or his above-average changeup or his improved slider. It isn’t his funky mechanics, either. It’s that he’s tall. Really tall.

Acevedo, the 23-year-old righthander—whom the Yankees promoted from high Class A Tampa to Double-A Trenton on Friday—is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. That frame makes him just a tick smaller than Yankees closer Dellin Betances, who spent plenty of time in his career at Arm & Hammer Park as well.

It’s not just those two, either. The Yankees have sent a barrage of tall righthanders through their system over the years. 2007 first-rounder Andrew Brackman was the tallest, checking in at 6-foot-10. Reliever Grant Duff is 6-foot-6, and Christian Garcia is 6-foot-5.

So the Yankees have plenty of experience dealing with tall pitchers and the challenges that come with helping them repeat their delivery often enough to command their pitches. And while control has never been a big issue for Acevedo—he hasn’t walked more than three hitters per nine innings in a minor league season—it’s nonetheless something he’s worked on diligently.

“I’m always working on the small details that I need to consistently work on to be able to attack the zone,” Acevedo said, with the help of an translator. “I’m always thinking about attacking the zone, and the team always has a plan in place for me to make sure that I make those adjustments.”

He’s also got a few guys currently in the system to help him with their common challenges. There’s Tim Norton (6-foot-6) who pitched in the organization for five years and is now the pitching coach at Tampa. There’s also Michael Pineda (6-foot-7) in the big league rotation.

“Pineda gave me a couple of tips to stay closed at one point,” Acevedo said, “but on a daily basis it’s more the coaches, the video that I’ve been shown, just to make sure I’m making the adjustments I need to make.”

When he does keep his body in sync, his frame can help give him a few notable advantages over the hitters. First, his delivery includes a lot of moving parts and quirkiness, which adds deception to his already impressive arsenal. He also uses his long limbs to create big-time extension, which makes his fastball play even higher than the 94-97 mph he sat on Friday, with a couple of touches of 98 mph.

“He’s humongous out there,” Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell said. “He has some down-angle, too, because of it. Because he’s so tall he has that down-angle even though his arm slot is a little low. That’s hard for hitters sometimes. . . . He’s tall, lanky and I think that extension helps, that release point being so far out there.”

Acevedo spun 6.1 shutout innings before yielding to lefty Nestor Cortes. He threw 68 of his 98 pitches for strikes, and got swings-and-misses on all three of his pitches. He maintained his velocity throughout the game, and his final two fastballs were thrown at 94 and 95 mph before he’d reached his pitch limit.

Entering the season, Acevedo’s fastball and changeup were his main weapons, with the slider lagging behind in need of sharpening. He’s made improvements in that area and is particularly proud of how far the pitch has come.

“It’s improved a lot,” he said. “Through repetition I’ve gotten more comfortable with it thanks to the coaches who put the work in with me I’ve been able to get a better slider.”

Thanks to a combination of size and stuff, Acevedo was as dominant on Friday in Double-A as he had been all season in high Class A. Scouts are still split on whether he’s a starter or a reliever in the long run, but there’s no question he’s got the tools to be an effective, imposing big leaguer.

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