Yankees have high hopes for top prospect Severino

Girardi hints at outside chance of right-hander reaching Majors in 2015

Yankees have high hopes for top prospect Severino

TAMPA, Fla. -- There were plenty of young hurlers on display as Joe Girardi patrolled the back of the bullpen at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday, but the Yankees manager made sure to check in on Luis Severino, who has been rated as the team's No. 1 prospect by MLB.com.

"It's a live arm," Girardi said. "It's a player that is bigger in stature than I thought when I heard some of the comparisons; he's bigger than I thought. A lot of times you worry about the rigors of players that are extremely thin, but he's a strong young kid, I believe, with a lot of talent."

Fans may want to keep an eye out for uniform No. 91 as the 21-year-old Severino experiences his first big league Spring Training.

The 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander pitched at three levels in New York's system last year, combining to go 6-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 24 starts. He struck out 127 batters and walked just 27 over 113 1/3 innings, highlighting his summer by appearing in the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field.

Severino went as far as Double-A Trenton, where he fired 25 innings in six starts, and the Thunder will likely have him to open up 2015. Scouts have projected Severino to reach the Majors in 2016, but Girardi said that it is not out of the question that he could see the Bronx sooner than that.

"Obviously that's not up to me, but if you're in big league camp, there's a reason you're here," Girardi said. "Some of it is that you've been put on the 40-man roster for the first time. Some of it is that you really have the ability, and that we think you could be a part of our club this year."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.