Winston Abreu Heads North

Minor league relievers rarely receive attention on these pages. Minor league relievers celebrating their 34th birthday the week of Opening Day with fewer than 50 career big league innings receive even less attention. I hope that I can be excused for making an exception for Winston Abreu, because here goes nothing.

Abreu spent the last two seasons primarily with the Durham Bulls (Tampa’s Triple-A team) after returning from a successful stint in Japan. To say his numbers are ethereal is an understatement: Abreu racked up more than 106 innings while fanning 159, walking 37, and giving up five home runs in a rare level of domination.

He did appear in the majors ever so briefly during the 2009 season. After Jason Isringhausen suffered a season-ending injury, the team chose to promote Abreu, and thus prevent him from exercising an opt-out clause in his contract. Two appearances later, the Rays designated him for assignment before trading him to Cleveland (for Jon Meloan) where he would go on to make three more appearances, running his big league career total to 38. Cleveland also designated him for assignment, but Abreu took less money to return to the Rays’ organization.

For a smart team like the Rays to turn a blind eye to Abreu’s stunning visuals must mean something is up. Best I can tell, there are two blemishes with Abreu. The first is difficult to tell through his minor league statistics, but his fastball command is off. The velocity is there (Baseball Info Solutions has his career fastball velocity at 92 miles per hour) and his slider is a worthwhile secondary pitch, but the fear is that he will be susceptible to major league hitters by falling behind in the count. The other issue concerns his brief time in the majors and is his home run rate. The mendacity of 40-something innings makes it hard to take Abreu’s career 2 HR/9 too seriously. Neither of those issues appear in Abreu’s minor league track record, which makes his major league offerings even more suspect.

With an emptying pen, Toronto will probably give Abreu a look in the spring. It’s hard to say whether Abreu will be able to make the most of the opportunity and finally approach the 50 innings plateau, but it’s even harder to say he hasn’t earned the opportunity.



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Jim Allen
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

To say Winston Abreu’s time in Japan was successful requires some qualification. He did strike out 24 of the 94 batters he faced, but allowed a .780 OBP in an excellent pitchers’ park with an above average defense behind him. Unlucky would be more accurate.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 5 months ago

I think you made a typo… .780 OBP out of 94 batters faced… besides not dividing out equally, with 24 strike outs that means everyone he faced and didn’t strike out reached base, and even a few of the people he did strike out reached as well.

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 5 months ago

Let’s assume he meant OPS.

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5 years 5 months ago

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bluejaysstatsgeek
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bluejaysstatsgeek
5 years 5 months ago

Interesting. I don’t see any reference to this signing on MLBTR, the Bluejay’s website, or any of the Toronto newspapers’ sites.

jw
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

John Lott of the National Post scooped it on Twitter.

187
Guest
187
5 years 5 months ago

.780 OBP!

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 5 months ago

Give me a bat!

abreu's real fan
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

I have to say in triple A he throws with one day of rest 2 days sometimes 3 days, but every time he is in the majors, he throws every 10 days or 12 days, that’s not good for any pitcher..

Jesse
Guest
Jesse
5 years 5 months ago

30% GB rate in 44 innings is pretty terrible, but whenever he’s in AAA, that number jumps to 40%. I wonder why he hasn’t been able to translate that to the big leagues…

Steve Slowinski
Member
Member
5 years 5 months ago

SSS, most likely. He’s really never been around long enough for anything to stabilize.

I was really hoping he’d finally get a shot with the Rays this season, so I hope he gets a chance to succeed with the Jays. Just as long as he doesn’t come back around to bite us…

JK
Guest
JK
5 years 5 months ago

It took until the last paragraph to learn that Abreu was acquired by the Blue Jays. You also never mentioned how he was obtained? I can’t find this information anywhere else. Can you fill me in on this?

BullsPrincess
Guest
BullsPrincess
5 years 5 months ago

I must say that I’ve seen Abreu many times in Durham, and he is one of the hardest working pitchers I have ever seen. He is at the ballpark before anyone else, and takes his training very seriously. I think he has not been given the opportunity that he deserves. I think with some work, he can be top-notch, never mind the age, he still has a lot of years left with the shape he is in. I hope that the Jays take ever advantage of what they have received, because the Rays have lost out on a great reliever.

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