I figured we'd attack the prospects coming back in the Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn trades like we did the draft. The last guy we'll look at is Juan Abreu, where we look at his ceiling, floor and ETA to the majors.
Here's the thing with Juan Abreu: I'd be much more excited about him if he were 23 instead of 26. He's got a killer fastball that runs up to 98 at times. He's got a good breaking pitch, even if it is a bit of a hybrid. The question with him is control. Can Abreu harness his stuff to become an effective pitcher?
That's what makes Abreu so interesting. He's basically a lottery ticket thrown into this Michael Bourn deal. He has nothing but upside, because there are few expectations on him to come through. No one is talking about him being a big part of the deal and no one expects him to do anything but be a late-inning reliever some time soon.
The problem I have with this deal is that he was a free agent last offseason. Houston could have signed him, but the Braves swooped in instead. So, Atlanta basically included him as a favor to Ed Wade or got fantastic return for the cost of a Triple-A salary.
If he can't get his control under...control...his floor will not be as a major leaguer. If you look at some of the notable major league relievers who struggled with control like a Kyle Farnsworth, his minor league walk numbers were at 3 or under. Abreu's is much higher than that, which is why he was let go by the Royals and why Atlanta was okay trading him.
I mentioned he's a lottery ticket. With his fastball velocity and a controlled breaking ball, Abreu can be a great closer. The Braves used him that way in the minors and he can do the same thing for Houston, if he can throw strikes. Of all the relief prospects Houston has, Abreu might be the best potential closer, even if he is older than the rest.
ETA To Majors
Whenever someone gets hurt or becomes ineffective in the big league bullpen. Abreu is ready now but he won't be great right away. I expect him to be one of the September call-ups.
Bibliography after the jump...
He throws quite hard, hitting 95-96 MPH, but his breaking ball and changeup are erratic, and his control is mediocre. He could be an impressive bullpen arm if he can tone down his wildness. Grade C, but has some upside.
Flashing a 98 MPH fastball and a wipeout curve, Abreu has the ceiling of a quality bullpen option. At this point, his command limits him to a 7th inning role, but there’s more to dream on than the average 26-year old triple-A reliever.
Abreu is a short righty with a quick arm and a violent delivery that allows him to constantly get into the mid-90s with his fastball. He throws a solid but unspectacular hybrid breaking ball, but what has kept him in the minors is a lack of control and his extreme flyball tendencies. At his age, it's hard to see him suddenly turning things around, and it seems likely he’ll be an up-and-down relief type for years
Juan Abreu is a 26-year-old right-handed reliever in Triple-A with a huge arm (he'll touch triple digits) but well-below-average control; he was signed as a minor league free agent, which means the Astros could have had him for nothing this past offseason.