TRENTON – New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was on hand in Trenton on Tuesday as two of the top pitching prospects in his team’s farm system took the mound for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
Arguably the best prospect in the system, Luis Severino took the loss after one bad pitch sailed over the wall for a two-run home run. However, the right-hander was otherwise effective, striking out three batters in as many innings pitched and limiting the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to just the one hit. Cashman indicated that he believed the 20-year-old to be a special pitcher who had a future in the big leagues.
“He’s got a big arm and a real special change up that’s impressive, especially at that age of 20,” Cashman told reporters after Tuesday’s game.
Cashman also came away quite impressed with the Yankees' second-round pick in the 2014 draft, Jacob Lindgren. The Yankees GM revealed he had never seen Lindgren pitch live prior to Tuesday, but walked away overly impressed with the lefty reliever and his overpowering slider. Despite having just 16 professional games under his belt, Cashman declined to rule out promoting the Mississippi State product to the majors this season.
“He’s as advertised,” Cashman noted. “Ground balls and strikeouts.”
After speaking with Cashman on Tuesday night, the smart money is on Lindgren making appearances in the Bronx this season, while Luis Severino’s big league debut will likely have to wait until 2015. Asked on Wednesday, Thunder manager Tony Franklin conceded that Severino is “extremely close” to his innings limit for the season, which is why he tossed just three innings. The talented right-hander has thrown 106 frames on the season after pitching just 44 innings last season.
Also taking the mound before Cashman’s eyes on Tuesday was relief pitching prospect Danny Burawa. The hard-throwing 25-year-old was transferred back to the Thunder after struggling to a 6.35 ERA with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but has fared well since returning, posting a 2.08 ERA over nine appearances.
Cashman compared Burawa to another Yankee pitcher who was demoted from Scranton to Trenton before bursting onto the scene and becoming an All-Star at the big league level, current set-up man Dellin Betances.
“Burawa has a big arm and a wipeout slider, so it’s just about commanding it,” Cashman said. “We’ve seen that before with a guy like Dellin Betances…We are hoping that down the line all those pieces fall into place eventually.”
However, Cashman did not seem as high on Mark Montgomery, who was once the consensus top relief pitching prospect in the system before suffering a shoulder injury early in the 2013 season. Though he indicated that Montgomery is “still on the radar,” it was hardly a glowing endorsement of the 23-year-old.
“He used to have much bigger velocity, and now it’s settling at a lower level,” Cashman noted. “He still has the performance behind it, it’s just not the power stuff it was before.”