Today RHP Severino Gonzalez will make his debut for the Phillies this Spring Training against the Atlanta Braves. The start is little more than a cameo to give the righty a look at the majors while not sending a major league starter on a long bus ride. Severino will likely start the year in AAA, after what appears like a disappointing trip to AA Reading. He is not on the 40 man roster and so is unlikely to be one of the first to get a call this year.
Severino broke out in 2013 after his velocity jumped close to 10 mph after spending two summers in the VSL. He then proceeded to tear through three levels of the Phillies system to the tune of a 2.00 ERA 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 K/9. This rise earned him honors for the top pitching performance in the Phillies system as well as some placement on some Top 10 Phillies prospects lists. In 2014, the Phillies sent him to AA and limited his best pitch (his cutter), and worked on him developing a changeup. The results were mediocre as he posted a 4.60 ERA with a 1.3 HR/9, 1.9 BB/9, and 6.5 K/9 while pitching a career high 158.1 innings.
Severino has a fastball at 88-91 that can reach 92. There is natural movement to the pitch and he can pump it in the zone all day, though he is still learning to consistently paint the corners with it. A step down in velocity there is the cutter which has short sharp bite, amplifying the natural movement in the fastball. The changeup is still in development, but he showed flashes of some feel for it over the course of the year. Severino will also bring a slider in the low-80s and a curveball in the mid-70s. Both are fringe average to average pitches that he can throw strikes with, but aren’t wipeout offerings.
Severino has a good feel for pitching and sequencing, and he can throw all of his pitches for strikes. He is only 6’1″ and comes with a low 3/4 delivery that has good extension, he tends to fall off to the first base side after each pitch. Despite his slight build, he does hold his velocity later into games better than he did in 2013. There is some projection for added strength in his upper half, but his lower half is pretty filled out.
Probably the best thing that sums up Severino is the types of strikeouts he has gotten. In 2013 he had a 22.4% strikeout swinging percent and a 6.9% strikeout looking percent, but in 2014 he has a 12.1% strikeout swinging percent and a 4.3% strikeout looking percent. His stuff just doesn’t miss bats, and due to his height and low delivery he is fly ball and homer prone. The readdition of the cutter should help him keep hitters off balance more, but it isn’t going to bring him back to his 2013 levels. Overall, if it all works he is a #5 starter in a big league rotation, but most likely he is a swing guy between the majors and AAA or a reliever. Despite this major league cameo, he is still likely buried behind quite a few starters in AA and AAA if the Phillies need an arm, but today should be a nice showcase for him.
Video of Severino Pitching by Jay Floyd