Name: Daison Acosta
Weight: 160 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2016 (Paraiso, Dominican Republic)
2019 Season: 4 G (3 GS), 18.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER (0.98 ERA), 6 BB, 25 K, 2 HBP, 1 BLK, 3 WP, .257 BABIP (Short-A); 11 G (11 GS), 52.1 IP, 50 H, 31 R, 22 ER (3.78 ERA), 26 BB, 49 K, 4 HBP, 2 BLK, 6 WP, .303 BABIP (Low-A)
Daison Acosta was signed as a minor league free agent out of Paraiso, Dominican Republic on July 2, 2016, receiving a $70,000 signing bonus. He made three starts in the Dominican Summer League later in the year, posting a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 6, and striking out 8. He made his stateside debut in 2017, getting assigned to the GCL Mets, and posted a 3.27 ERA in 22.0 innings, allowing 18 hits, walking 7, and striking out 19. He was assigned to the Kingsport Mets for the 2018 season and posted a 4.46 ERA in 42.1 innings, allowing 38 hits, walking 18, and striking out 46. He began the 2019 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, but was quickly promoted to the Columbia Fireflies after allowing just two earned runs in 18.1 innings in Coney Island. He was not as dominant in the South Atlantic League as he was in the New York-Penn League, but still enjoyed a successful season, posting a 3.78 ERA in 52.1 innings, allowing 50 hits, walking 26, and striking out 49.
The recently turned 21-year-old is tall and lanky, suggesting additional growth to come. He throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple, effortless delivery with a long arm action in the back and a whippy arm. His fastball sits in the low-90s, topping out at 94 MPH. Because of his size and weight, Acosta has the potential to add additional strength and muscle to his frame, increasing his fastball velocity. He complements his fastball with an assortment of pitches, his curveball being the best secondary offering. The pitch sits 77-82 MPH and features big 11-5 and 12-6 vertical drop. His changeup, which sits in the mid-80s, features some fade, especially when thrown down in the zone. He prefers working down in the zone in general, but because his command is far from pinpoint, it leads to elevated pitch counts and more walks than you would want to see.
When I saw Acosta in Kingsport in 2018, I thought he was gonna be the next big thing. He had a good fastball, he had an amazing curveball, and he was young and projectable, meaning both of those things could get even better in the future. While he didn’t exactly break out in 2019, he didn’t perform poorly, either. He was dominant in a handful of games with the Brooklyn Cyclones, and while he had his ups-and-downs in Columbia, he was about league average despite being roughly two years younger than league average. This past season might not have been his coming out party, but there’s a good chance 2020 could be.
Given that he was signed for only $70,000, Acosta is already a success story solely because he’s appeared on this list. It’s another low-upside gamble on a back-of-the-rotation type with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a good slider. That two-pitch mix makes him a likely relief candidate of course, as do the command struggles he had after a midseason promotion. For now he’s a starter with some upside in a system where that profile is in short supply.
Acosta responded pretty well to his first taste of full season ball in 2019. He started the season in Brooklyn, and dominated New York-Penn League hitters across four games before earning a promotion to Columbia Fireflies. While he didn’t quite replicate the success he had in Brooklyn after being promoted to Columbia, he did pitch reasonably well against generally older competition. Acosta managed to post an ERA of 3.78 in 52.1 innings pitched across 11 starts, despite an increase in his walk rate from 8.7% with Brooklyn to 11.1% with Columbia. Acosta has the makings of a three-pitch mix, with at least one of the secondary pitches being comfortably above-average. There’s some legitimate feel for spin here, and he occasionally spins one off that makes you think the pitch has the potential to develop into an outpitch at some point down the line. The fastball is still a little short at present, but it’s definitely possible that he adds some velocity as he gets older and stronger. I’m skeptical that he ends up a starter at the big league level unless he adds a third pitch at some point, but the fastball and curveball should play pretty well in short bursts if he finds himself in the bullpen someday.
Acosta was another player who went from our “Other Players of Note” section of the 2018 list to the 2019 list proper, and for good reason. He had a very solid 2019 season, which started with an exclamation point, when he had a 0.98 ERA in 18 innings for the eventual New York-Penn League Champion Brooklyn Cyclones. His strikeouts rose this year, which is nice, but the walks remain an issue he’ll need to correct.