Before coming to the MLB and smashing 20 home runs in just his first 58 games, Jose Abreu had a prolific career in the Cuban Baseball National Series (Cuba’s top championship), starting at the very early age of 16, when he would play at first, second, third or in the outfield. While doing so, he averaged .271 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 71 games. He seemed like a very hot prospect, taking into account how old he was (or how young, for that matter), and for that very short stretch (say for the 2003-04 and the 2004-05 seasons) he seemed overpowered by pitchers, some of whom were old enough to be his father. From then on, he owned them.
For his career in Cuba, Abreu fell shy 16 homers of 200 in ten seasons. Yet, it was his youth that kept him from getting them early season-wise. Up to his 21-year-old season, his career-high in dingers was 13 (that very year) and had collected more than ten only once (11 in 2005-06), when he had what could be called his breakthrough year, hitting .337, with 105 hits and 64 RBIs in 84 games. Read the rest of this entry »