Glendale, Arizona —— On Monday afternoon, New York Yankees right-handed pitching prospect Albert Abreu started an Arizona Fall League game for the Scottsdale Scorpions on the road at Camelback Ranch against the Glendale Desert Dogs. Abreu, one of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects, didn’t have his sharpest stuff on the day — he finished the game having thrown four innings and allowing three runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts. That said, he sat 93-96 mph with his fastball all day on Monday, and also flashed an 82-85 mph changeup and a 78-83 mph curveball.
You can watch our high definition video of Albert Abreu’s four-inning outing, and get a sense of some of his pitch life and action, right here:
It’s pretty impressive to sit right on Albert Abreu behind the plate, because he’s got astounding, late arm-side movement on both his fastball and changeup. Today, that movement came so late and hard to the point where he couldn’t actually harness it some of the time, and that run affected his command and cut short his day due to pitch count. When the New York Yankees pitching prospect gets on top of the ball and stays on line to the plate while getting extended out front, he can harness the run and use it plus significant sink to his advantage; when his arm lags behind and his release point falters as his arm drops to catch up, Abreu’s ball stays up and flattens out, and it’ll get hit hard even in the mid-90s. The righty wasn’t as precise with his command on Monday as he’d been in the recent past, and he lost his release point several times throughout his four innings, producing non-competitive at-bats and handing out too many free passes and balls out over the plate.
But even without being at his sharpest, when Albert Abreu is relatively on line with consistent mechanics, his stuff is as lively as any I’ve seen at the Arizona Fall League. He’s free and easy in the mid-90s with a repeatable delivery below max effort. His curveball is very tight and sharp, breaking 11-to-5 with late hump and some swing-and-miss. And his changeup, when thrown properly with good arm action and extension out front, seriously has the ability to truly be a wipeout pitch if he can consistently get it down and trust it to take off arm-side with very late tumble at the plate. (The New York Yankees prospect also reportedly throws a slider, but I didn’t see it on Monday.)
Down the road, my hunch is the New York Yankees eventually move Albert Abreu to the bullpen and let him work in the upper-90s with that hard breaking ball and power changeup, though I’d have to see him a few more times to be sure. As lively as his stuff is, and knowing how much of a challenge it’ll continue to be to harness that arsenal as he faces better and better hitters, a high-leverage role in the bullpen may be the best long-term place to get some value out of Abreu’s command profile. That said, he’s still just 22 years old and has just reached High-A for part of a season, so the Yankees ought not up and move him there quite yet; expect Albert Abreu to find himself in the High-A Tampa rotation to begin 2018, at which point he’ll either pitch himself to a promotion or work his way to the bullpen if his pitch command can’t catch up to the raw life in his arsenal.
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