by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
You can argue that the Yankees are not loaded with pitching prospects, especially not at the same level as their hitters. That said when you think of the system the names that come to mind are probably:
- Chance Adams
- Justus Sheffield
However it could be that Albert Abreu, acquired as part of the Brian McCann trade, who emerges as the team’s best pitching prospect. Ranked as our #7 prospect in the Yankees system, with a “B” grade, he was breakout potential written all over him.
When you look at last season’s numbers, when he was limited to a total of 49.0 innings (due to a shoulder injury) and struggled with his control upon reaching High-A (3.93 BB/9), you may not get that impression. There also is the perception that he could ultimately be ticketed for the bullpen, thanks to his velocity and control issues. However when you see a scouting report like this, courtesy of Rich Wilson of Prospect 361, it’s hard not to get excited:
“He throws hard but it’s an easy delivery. He mixes in both a four-seamer and a quality sinker that gets a ton of ground balls. He’s still working on his secondary pitches but both his slider and change-up are flashing as quality pitches. At 6-foot-2, he has good size and pitches down in the zone. Therefore, I don’t think he will be homer prone. His command is still not there but as he pitches more, that will improve as well.”
He has shown a propensity for groundballs, with a career 1.24 GO/AO. He also has continued to get strikeouts, with a career 9.4 K/9. If he can discover his control, even just slightly, as he develops his secondary pitches he could easily emerge as the best pitching prospect in the system.
It’s going to take time, as the 22-year old has never thrown more than 101.2 innings in a season to date (2016) and has yet to pitch above High-A. He also missed time this spring due to an appendectomy, just slowing his preparation.
Chances are he starts the year at High-A, potentially moving to Double-A, which would put him in line to arrive in 2019 or 2020. That means you will need to be patient, but the upside is there.
Current Grade – B
Upside Grade – B+ (Think #2-3 starter and a potential Top 40 SP)
Dynasty League Owners – This could be your last opportunity to buy him before he establishes himself among the better pitching prospects in the game, so kick the tires and gauge the price tag.
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, Baseball Reference, Prospect 361
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: