Astros #11 Prospect Albert Abreu Is A Strikeout Machine

Astros Class-A Report: Quad Cities River Bandits (May 1-7)

Astros minor leaguer Albert Abreu is mowing them down for the River Bandits. The Astros #11 prospect (#5 pitching prospect) is among the Midwest League leaders in strikeouts and has so far been one of the bright spots for a struggling team. Although he is 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA to start the season, he is striking out batters at an impressive rate.

On May 2, in six innings, Abreu fanned nine batters. He gave up only one run on one hit and three walks, yet was saddled with the loss when the River Bandits could not solve Great Lakes pitching. The 20-year-old Abreu has struck out 38 batters in his first six outings of the new season (24.1 innings). 

Signed in August 2013 by the Astros as an International free agent, Abreu spent his first professional season of 2014 pitching for the Astros-Blue squad in the Dominican Summer League (Rookie). That season, at age 18, he went 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 14 games/68 innings (all as a starting pitcher). He established himself as a strikeout pitcher early on, ending 2014 with 54 K’s against 29 walks.

The next season saw Abreu moved up to Greeneville in the Appalachian League (Rookie), where he appeared in 13 games/46.2 innings with seven starts. His ERA dropped to 2.51, and although he threw 11.1 fewer innings than the previous year, he still struck out 51, with 21 walks.

Abreu has a good fastball in the 92-94 mph range, with bursts up to 96. If his control improves, along with an emerging curveball, changeup, and a new cutter (according to Prospect 361), he could soon move up in the organization.

While the River Bandits have had some outstanding pitching performances in 2016, the hitters are still, for the most part, mired in slumps. It is still early in the season, and a big night at the plate, or a hitless night, can drastically change a batting average. Catcher Anthony Hermelyn has been the most consistent hitter so far. He is batting .317 in 18 games, with an on-base percentage of .480. Kyle Tucker (#4 prospect) has been reasonably consistent, hitting .282. His steady pace is a sign that he is progressing as a hitter.

The good news for #5 prospect Daz Cameron is that he is no longer the Midwest League strikeout leader. The bad news is that his .143/.221/.221 line and his 33 strikeouts in 77 at-bats was cause enough for concern that on May 4, he was sent to Astros extended Spring Training to work on his swing (according to Brian McTaggart’s tweet). Cameron isn’t the only River Bandit to be in a slump. However, his massive strikeout total and lack of hits led to this move geared towards helping him get on track.

Other notes:

  • Catcher Marlon Avea was assigned on April 30 to the River Bandits from the Tri-City Valley Cats. He was previously sent on April 7 from Quad Cities to Tri-City; his return could signal a promotion for hot-hitting Anthony Hermelyn.
  • In case you were wondering about the well traveled Yeyfry Del Rosario(see last week’s Quad Cities report) he was on the move again this week. Rosario was sent from Lancaster (Advanced-A, Cal. League) back to the Tri-City Valley Cats (Short-season-A, NY-Penn League). Then on May 5, he returned the JetHawks. We hope he gets credit for the air miles, as he has racked up several thousand in the past month or so. We also have to wonder what happens when this guy wakes up every morning, trying to figure out where he is this time.
  • Alex Winkelman threw 3.2 innings on May 3, giving up only one hit and striking out eight Great Lakes batters.
  • In the same game, Ryan Deemes pitched 3.1 innings, with no hits and five K’s. He has given up only one earned run in eight games, 17.1 innings, lowering his ERA to 0.52 and his WHIP to 0.75.
  • Zac Person pitched four innings on May 5, allowing only one hit, three walks, and striking out five. Adam Whitt finished up that game with two hitless innings.

Quad Cities went 2-5 this past week, dropping them to the last place in the Western Division. Next week, (May 8-14), the River Bandits play a three-game home set against the Burlington Bees (Angels), and the first three of a four-game series on the road against the Beloit Snappers (A’s).

**Statistics provided by MiLB.com. Cover photo courtesy @QCBanditPhotog.**

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