Acevedo was the most electric, strike-throwing power arm I’ve seen at Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park this season, making his Double-A debut for the Thunder in impressive fashion, throwing 6 1/3 innings and giving up just four hits, two walks and five strikeouts in a 6-0 Thunder win over the Portland Sea Dogs. He sat 94-to-97 mph (T98) with a near-elite, 75-grade fastball all night, with most of my readings at 95-to-96 mph with arm-side run and tail, and with late life. His big-time extension off the mound makes this pitch, and the entire arsenal, play up half a grade when coming out of hand so close to the plate, utilizing and easy arm action that starts calmly with a slight stab in the back and accelerates quickly and smoothly through his 3/4’s arm slot. He established his fastball early to get outs, but five early outs were of the hard-contact variety, as his misses would leak into the zone, in part due to some inconsistent mechanics that had him overthrowing at times, and spinning out to the first-base side.
The swing and miss is in there with his two average secondaries that project to above-average offerings with some polish to the delivery and increased usage. His tumbling changeup sat 82-to-85 mph, and his average slider was 84-to-89 mph, with easy ¾’s-or-better depth and late bite in the lower velo range, and the harder version taking more of a cutter-like dart shape in the 88-to-89 mph range. Each offering was mixed much more effectively the second and third time through the lineup. His overall control profile is easy-plus graded (2.1 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 through 93 innings across Class A and High A ball in 2016, and 2.07 SO/9 and 10.75 SO/9 through 47 2/3 innings this year.
He looked every bit the part a future Role 60, number three starter, and he was quickly comparable, to my eye, to the huge frame, soft build, sloped shoulders, and gait of Michael Pineda (RHP,Yankees), just with more juice in the overall stuff. But from a development point of view, he compares well to another electric arm that I saw in the AFL last year in Michael Kopech (RHP, White Sox), in that Acevedo could benefit from calming the fastball down to a consistently plus to double-plus 94-to-95 mph by smoothing his mechanics for improved repeatability and a consistent online finish. That would maintain the control grade at plus, or better, and improve the effectiveness of his secondaries by firing from a more consistent release point, which would make the arsenal even harder to pick up out of hand with the huge extension he gets off the mound. The grades, and the chance for plus-or-better control, make a hell of a starter’s package.