Continuing The Times-Tribune’s annual countdown of the top 15 Yankees prospects. I rank 20 prospects, Donnie Collins ranks 20 prospects, and then we average them together. The list takes into account ETA for the big leagues. You’re going to find some guys who might not have ceilings as high as others, but who instead could be in a position to help the Yankees sooner. Since they’re so new to pro baseball, 2018 draftees are not included on the list.
Albert Abreu has the stuff of a frontline starter. The question is whether he can command it and whether he can stay healthy enough to throw it.
Position: Starting pitcher
Acquired: In a trade with the Houston Astros on Nov. 17, 2016. The Yankees sent Brian McCann to the Astros for Abreu and Jorge Guzman.
SWB ETA: 2020
Pitched 17 games, with 13 coming at High-A Tampa. With the Tarpons, he went 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA in 62.2 innings and averaged 4.2 walks per nine innings and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He also allowed nine home runs. After the season, started six games in the Dominican Winter League, where he had a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings, walked 11 and struck out 15.
Here’s some video of Abreu:
RHP Albert Abreu played in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, where he made 6 starts and posted a 1.35 ERA. Here’s a compilation of a few of his strikeouts from the 2018 season: pic.twitter.com/Dm0aEWDchY
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) March 2, 2019
Below, Donnie and I discuss why Abreu lands at No. 11 on the list, what’s good about him and what might need work. This one, uh, starts a little differently, too.
CF: Got time to talk about Albert Abreu?
CF: I’m sitting in a Disney parking lot. So this is a Top 15 Prospect List first.
DC: Which park?
CF: Hollywood Studios.
DC: We loved it there. It’s my third favorite Disney park.
CF: It’s no Magic Kingdom, but it’s fun. Heavy Star Wars presence already.
DC: The best part of that whole park is the Frozen Sing Along. The actors can not stay in character and they just start throwing these inside jokes out there and making fun of the movie and laughing about it all. Pure entertainment. And Star Tours is completely underrated.
CF: Went on Star Tours 20 years ago and loved it. Went on Star Tours today and loved it.
DC: Indiana Jones show was also fun.
CF: Also did that. Highly entertaining. … These next two guys are in the same boat for me. Stuff is frontline-starter electric, but the stuff is no good if they don’t know where it’s going. I’ve heard people rave about Abreu. But two things: he’s got to stay healthy and he’s got to develop his command more. Otherwise …
DC: I really think if he stays healthy he’ll pitch like a top prospect. He throws so hard. His fastball is in the triple digits at times, but when it’s in the 96-98 range, it gets such terrific sink. It’s amazing anyone ever hits him. But somehow, he gives up too many homers. And he walks way, way too many. But I’m willing to attribute that to just never being able to get into a rhythm that would accelerate his development. This is a big season for him though.
CF: Yeah, he’s on the 40-man now, so I’d think he’s officially going to be on an accelerated path. The few times he was on TV this spring — I don’t know, I guess it just wasn’t what I was expecting to see. Not sure he has his feet under him yet. I totally buy that rhythm theory. A good stretch of health could do him a world of good. The curveball he throws is pretty fun, too. A big looping throwback kind of curveball.
DC: I’ve seen him on MILB TV a few times when that breaking ball isn’t nearly as good. I used to think he threw a slider and a curve until I was told he didn’t throw both. When he’s on, his stuff is incredible. But that’s fewer and farther between because of the injuries. That’s what it comes down to. I really believe, though, that if he stays on rotation, he’ll be better. It almost has to be that way.
CF: I know I’ve already said this a few times, but this feels like such a big year for a lot of guys in this system. Are they for real? Or are they just a flash in the pan? Here’s another crazy thought: the Yankees turned an aging Brian McCann into Albert Abreu and Giancarlo Stanton.
DC: They did a really great job kind of recreating the system through some of these trades. The Chapman trade for sure. But they got two guys for Carlos Beltran that helped them get James Paxton and Zach Britton. Might be fair to say that the reason it seems like such a big season for so many guys is because it’s getting close to time for the Yankees to determine who they’ll keep and who they’ll try to trade off at the deadline. I can see Abreu being the latter if he struggles again with injuries.
15: Phillip Diehl
14: Stephen Tarpley
13: Garrett Whitlock
12: Nick Nelson
11: Albert Abreu
7: March 24
6: March 25
5: March 26
4: March 27
3: March 28
2: March 29
1: March 30
Photo: Associated Press