CLEARWATER, Fla. - The player one opposing team talent evaluator during the winter called the "best pitching prospect the Yankees have had since El Duque" made his spring training debut Tuesday.
Righthander Luis Severino notched an impressive 1-2-3 third inning, in which he struck out the first two batters, then allowed two runs and four hits in the fourth, though none of the hits were particularly hard hit, in a 5-5 tie against the Phillies at Bright House Field.
Severino's rougher second inning didn't lessen the hype surrounding him.
"The hype is warranted," one NL scout said.
After two scoreless innings by Adam Warren, Severino, who turned 21 Feb. 20, came on for the third. The 6-5, 190-pounder from the Dominican Republic got Cesar Hernandez looking at an 86-mph changeup, then whiffed Cameron Rupp on a 96-mph fastball. Severino shattered Ben Revere's bat with a 94-mph fastball, resulting in a 5-3 groundout.
"There's no fear there," Joe Girardi said. "He went right at guys."
The fourth inning, in which Severino retired just one batter before being removed, did not go as well. Freddy Galvis and Grady Sizemore grounded singles to center and Ryan Howard flared a full-count pitch, which came in at 94 mph, to right for an RBI single. Domonic Brown then flipped a 96-mph fastball to left for another RBI single.
Severino has shot through the organization, finishing last season with Double-A Trenton after starting the season with low-A Charleston. There's little chance he makes the big-league team out of camp, but Severino being Bronx-bound at some point this season is quite possible should he pitch in the minors the way he did last season.
"Yeah, I hope so," Severino said of a call-up this season. "I have to continue to do my job. I have to do my job. That's all that matters."
A job that one AL scout said can be accomplished with what he called Severino's "electric stuff."
"He has uncanny control and command for the entire arsenal," the scout added.
Austin Romine, in a competition this spring for the backup catching job with John Ryan Murphy, has caught Severino a couple of times, including Tuesday.
"Really loose [arm] action, he doesn't look like he's trying to throw 95," Romine said. "He commanded three pitches. Loved his changeup and he throws his slider to both sides. Really advanced. For his age, he has a good grasp of how to go after it. He was fun to catch."
Earlier in camp, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Severino seemed to be "as advertised," adding his work ethic and quiet confidence stood out.
"His eyes are wide open and he's here to observe and learn and I think in his mind, he's here to compete, which is a good thing," Rothschild said.
But Rothschild was also quick to point out there's a long way to go between success at Double-A -- Severino went 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA in six starts with Trenton -- and the majors.
"He's a young pitcher that hasn't pitched a whole lot even in Double-A, so there's a development curve there and we'll see where it is when we start the games," Rothschild said.
So should the hype machine slow down a bit with Severino?
"I always think that with young pitchers," he said. "You can't put the cart before the horse. There's certain phases of development that they need to go through if they're going to be that guy that we talk about and develops into a top-flight major- league starter.
"Some come quicker than others. Everything I've heard [and seen] is really good but this is a different level. But he's got a chance to have a good future, it's just we have to put him in that position."