Yankee fans may be watching the world series right now and wondering if Astros catcher Brian McCann were still in the Bronx, would it be their Yankees not the Astros in the fall classic.
Yet the deal that sent McCann to Houston, not only cleared a spot for Gary Sanchez to showcase his offensive talent but injected talent into what was becoming one of the best farm systems in baseball.
One of the additions to the farm system was Albert Abreu, the number seven prospect in the Yankees system and is now finding success in the Arizona Fall League
Last week, Abreu dominated the Glendale Desert Dogs tossing five shutout innings in which he struck out eight.
Overall Abreu boasts a 2.37 ERA in the Fall League while piling up 20 strikeouts in 19 innings. In addition, the right-hander has held batters to a .200 batting average against.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I’ve been working really hard when you work that hard, you expect some good things to happen.”
One of the things Abreu has been working on is his control for all three of his pitches. Fastball, a changeup, and a curve.
“There is no specific secondary pitch that I am working on because I need to get better at all of them,” Abreu said. “I need to continue to work on all of them.”
Abreu said he is also working on his fastball command, and that over the first few weeks of the Arizona Fall League, his control has improved.
He attributes this improvement to his pitching mechanics which have gotten much better recently.
This success at the fall league had done wonders for Abreu’s confidence.
Abreu has only pitched in High-A, but many of the hitters in the league are from Double-A and Triple-A representing what Abreu will have to face next in his road to the show.
“It makes me confident going into next year and going into a higher-level class,” Abreu said. “I should be able to pitch against them. I now have the experience.”
The 22-year-old pitched in three levels of the Yankees minor league system in 2017. Rookie ball, low A and high A.
In 53.1 Innings Abreu boasted an ERA in 2.62 but struggled in high A where his ERA was 4.19 as he pitched 34.1 of his innings there.
If he can continue his success in the Fall League the next natural step for Abreu would be pitching Double-A Trenton.
However, the further one looks further into Abreu’s future, the more unclear it becomes. Abreu must also work to separate himself from what is becoming a crowded Yankees starting rotation.
The addition of Sonny Gray at the trade deadline will fill up another spot and the possibility of Mashiro Tanaka taking the player option after an up and down season leaves only one open spot in the Yankees rotation.
That is assuming the Yankees let C.C. Sabathia walk in free agency, which is no guarantee after the October the lefty just had.
To make things even more difficult for Abreu, he will also compete for a rotation spot with fellow prospects. This is no easy task as the competition is Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo who are all ranked ahead of him according to MLB pipeline.
Thus, the best course of action for Abreu might be to focus on what is in front of him.
He cannot control what the Yankees do and what his teammates do, but if he continues to grow then he might just find a spot on a big-league roster.