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March 26, 2005


#13
by Fabian

One Season out of 1000 (SG)

Eric Abreu, 21, RHP

Eric Abreu, who had been briefly mentioned by BA in the past, finally logged significant innings in ’04 and did not disappoint. His summer began in the GCL where he was quickly promoted after 12.1 dominant innings as he limited opponents to 6 hits, 2 walks, and struck them out 14 times. Abreu then got better once promoted to the NYPL where he faced more age-appropriate competition. In 27.2 innings, opponents hit .238 with a .317 SLG and struck out in 46.5% of at bats while only managing 6 walks. It was clear Abreu needed another challenge, and the Yankees gave it to him with a promotion to the Florida State League. Once there Abreu continued to dominate his competition; 17 innings produced a BAA of .125 with a .232 SLG and strikeouts in 26.8% of at bats to go along with 6 walks.

Judging by his ’04 numbers, Abreu is about neutral as far as groundball-fly ball tendencies. He also seems to be about equally tough on left and right-handed batters, perhaps more so to left-handed ones. Combined between the NYPL and FSL, LHB hit ~.160 while striking out ~42% of the time and managing 3 extra base hits. RHB hit ~.210 while striking out ~35% of the time and managing 6 extra base hits. He faced RHB just slightly more than he did LHB in ’04, but the reason I’m wary of making the distinction is that the difference in splits did not really develop until his FSL split and there may be a reason for that.

While Abreu regularly sports a low 90s fastball that can reach the mid 90s, during his time in the FSL his fastball had lost a lot of zip due to fatigue. Without that to keep RHB completely honest, they may have been able to cheat a bit when hitting him. Despite this he was still able to pitch extremely well due to his command/control of his fastball and his curveball and change up combination. Fatigue in a season that only lasted about 57 innings is a concern for a prospect attempting to be a starter. When combined with that started being listed at 6’1’’ there is the looming concern that a move to the bullpen may come quickly and unnecessarily.

Abreu should begin the ’05 season as a member of either the Tampa or Trenton rotation. I would look for him to experience a lot of early success and my only concern would be to keep an eye on how he holds up as the season progresses. Noting that his NYPL numbers are arguably equivalent to or lesser than those of Jesse Hoover, who has the better pitcher’s build, there is probably the question of what separates the two. The answer would be that I just have a better gut feeling about Abreu who also happens to be 17 months younger and possesses better control of his pitches.

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