Sever Taking Advantage of His Playing Time
Danny Madden | On 28, Jun 2016
It’s not easy being thrown into a role and being asked to perform right away. It takes time. You need to get the feel for the everyday grind instead of just going out there once every two or three days. There are guys out there that can’t make that transition. Sometimes those guys are just meant to be backup depth players. Other times, these players will take the opportunity by the horns and run with it and never look back.
This is how Joe Sever has been handling his everyday duties at Akron this year.
Sever was drafted by the Tribe back in 2012 in the 21st round. The nephew of former NFL quarterback John Elway, Sever has spent parts of five seasons in the Tribe’s minor league system.
At the age of 21, Sever spent 46 games with short season Mahoning Valley where he hit .274/.368/.366 with one home run, two doubles, one triple and drove in 20 RBI.
In 2013, Sever spent time in both Low-A Lake County and High-A Carolina. Between the two clubs, the infielder bounced between all of first, second, and third base. He’s never been one to have a specific home on the field. He’s been utilized the most as a utility infielder to maximize his abilities at the plate. Between the two clubs in 2013, Sever hit .279/.339/.396 with seven home runs, 29 doubles, and two triples.
He continued his time at High-A Carolina in 2014. Playing in 72 games for the Mudcats, Sever hit .263/.350/.333 with three home runs, ten doubles, and only drove in 36. This was the first time Sever really struggled in the minors, but it was also partial to lack of playing time. In 2013, he appeared in 122 games, but in 2014 it was decreased by a bit. He suffered a hand injury in 2014 which was part of the reason why he had missed time, and attributed to his lack of offense.
Things remained the same for Sever at the start of 2015. He started off the season with High-A Lynchburg, but didn’t stay there for the whole season. He was moved up to Double-A Akron where he was challenged unlike he had been before. The RubberDucks needed depth in the infield, and Sever was the best bet at the time. Prior to current RubberDucks first basemen Nellie Rodriguez getting the call up, Sever filled in primarily at first base. Once Rodriguez joined the club, Sever’s playing time was decreased dramatically. He only spent five games at second base and three at third base. During his time at Akron, he only hit .219/.265/.305 with two home runs, three doubles, and drove in 13.
It was looking like not much was going to change for Sever coming into 2016 as well. With the signing of Juan Uribe in Cleveland, this forced Giovanny Urshela to become the everyday third baseman at Triple-A Columbus and Yandy Diaz the same at Akron. This relegated Sever to become a bench role player again. Once an injury befell Urshela, Diaz was promoted to Triple-A Columbus, and Sever was moved to an everyday position at third base. Since his promotion, the 25-year-old infielder has hit his stride with the club.
“He’s been really dependable at third and giving us pro at bats at third every night,” manager Dave Wallace said about Sever.
Between the months of May and June, Sever has hit .269/.313/.339 with one home run, eight doubles, one triple, and he’s driven in ten. He’s hit very well in June and that can be accredited to him becoming more comfortable in an everyday role. In April, he played in ten games. In May, he played in 25. Through June 27, he’s been in 26 games. For a guy who’s not used to playing every day, he’s certainly been taking advantage of his time in Akron.
The only downside to Sever playing every day is that there is a larger sample size of what to expect from him. Through most of his time in the minors, Sever’s K% has hovered around 17%. Through 59 games in 2016, his K% has risen to 22.4% and his walk rate has dropped to 5.2%. He’s still sporting a BABIP of .356 on the season, but that’s likely to regress. His current wRC+ is sitting at 91, which is pretty valuable for a guy coming off the bench, or in Sever’s case, being thrown into an everyday position. If Sever can find a way to cut down on his strikeouts, and bring his walk rate back up to par, then he can become a valuable piece to a team in need.
With his ability to play around the diamond, it only increases his chances of being thought of as more than a depth piece. Unfortunately for Sever, he’s already 25 years old and in Double-A. For a guy who was drafted out of college, the hope would be that he’d be farther along in his development than he is. On the other hand, he’s finally being given a chance to be more than just a bench guy, and Sever has proved that he can produce when he’s given a chance. Whether this offensive prowess continues remains to be seen. He provides at the dish while also providing a decent glove at the hot corner.
You never know what you have in a player until he’s given a chance to prove himself. Sever is doing just that.
Photo: David Monseur/MiLB.com