Luis Severino touches 97 mph with his fastball and has other pitches he can throw for strikes. The Charleston RiverDogs' right-hander just turned 20.
Aaron Judge, a New York Yankees' first-round draft pick last June, is 6-7. His frame creates one of the largest strike zones in professional baseball. But the former Fresno State slugger has been one of the South Atlantic League's most disciplined hitters, third in the league in on-base percentage and tied for first in walks.
RiverDogs manager Luis Dorante thinks Caleb Smith is due for a promotion, and not just because the 22-year-old lefty struck out 13 batters in a game at Delmarva last week.
"A lot of prospects," Dorante said Wednesday when asked about his roster of young Bronx hopefuls.
Maybe the Yankees' farm system isn't in such alarmingly mediocre shape after all.
But the brand has taken some hits.
Baseball America ranks the Yankees No. 13 among minor league farm systems, down from No. 11 last year. That's not good for the ultimate big-market organization, an outfit that should have top scouts, flexible budgets and lots of international signing bonus money to throw around.
The Yankees scored much worse in Baseball America's rating of "Organizations With 25-and-under Talent."
Of 30 big-league farm systems.
A worst-place finish from the organization that once brought Derek Jeter and Marino Rivera to the South Atlantic League.
The Yankees have provided Charleston with reasonably good baseball since the RiverDogs became a New York affiliate in 2005. Charleston has had seven winning records in the last nine seasons.
But not enough prospects have panned out. Others have stalled in the minors.
Or did you miss the desperate Yankees grasping for Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka as part of $470 million spent on seven free agents last off-season?
Hope rides highest with catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Slade Heathcott and first baseman Greg Bird, top Yankees prospects and former RiverDogs. There is still plenty of time for outfielders Mason Williams and Tyler Austin and pitchers Manny Banuelos, Jose Campos and Rafael DePaula, also former RiverDogs.
But check out the freshest examples of Yankee ingenuity on display at The Joe during a homestand that continues with a Thursday night doubleheader against Augusta and lasts through Monday against Delmarva.
Severino is a show himself, coupling the power arm with contrasting emotion. He has 22 strikeouts in 19 innings (0-1, 1.89 earned run average) while mixing in curves and change-ups.
"Dealing with errors behind him," Dorante said, "that's one thing he needs to keep learning."
Judge's mature strike-zone judgment might remind you of former White Sox bopper Frank Thomas. The 22-year-old outfielder won the 2012 College Baseball Home Run Derby in Omaha.
"A big guy like that is not going to see many pitches down the middle," Dorante said. "His patience at this level is very impressive."
Abiatal Avelino, 19, shows flashes of a good defensive shortstop with the ability to get on base and run. That's why the Yankees gave the Dominican a $300,000 bonus at 16.
"We've shown him videos of guys in the big leagues and how they put their gloves on the ground and how to approach the ball," Dorante said. "We tell him, 'This should be natural for you.' He's been better at that, and I give him credit."
You never know with projected talent at the Class A level of minor league baseball - long-range weather forecasting is easier. But a few of these guys are likely to advance on schedule and make an impact.
Enough, at least, to vault the Yankees out of last place in a farm system ranking of young talent.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff
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