The Astros signed Abreu for $185,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, then traded him and Jorge Guzman (who later became part of New York's Giancarlo Stanton deal) to the Yankees for Brian McCann three years later. Since then, Abreu has showcased perhaps the best all-around stuff in New York's system, but he has battled injuries and inconsistency. He worked just 222 2/3 innings in his first three seasons with the Yankees while dealing with shoulder, elbow and biceps issues as well as an appendectomy.
When he's healthy and dialed in, all three of Abreu's pitches can grade as well above average. He can maintain a 94-98 mph fastball with riding action throughout his starts and reach 101 mph. His power slurve can destroy hitters with its combination of curveball depth and mid-80s slider velocity, and he can demonstrate advanced feel for a fading mid-80s changeup.
While stuff gives Abreu the ceiling of a frontline starter, he still must prove he can bring it to the mound every five days for an entire season. His short-arm delivery adds deception but also makes it difficult for him to control and command his pitches, which means he gets hit hard more than he should. The Yankees still hope he can impact their rotation in the not-too-distant future, though it's becoming increasingly likely that he could wind up in the bullpen, where he'd have closer upside.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 40 | Overall: 50
When Gary Sanchez made Brian McCann redundant in New York, the Yankees traded McCann to the Astros in November 2016 for Abreu and fellow right-handed pitching prospect Jorge Guzman (whom they later spun to the Marlins in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton). Signed for $185,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Abreu has shown frontline-starter upside when healthy. A shoulder strain, appendectomy and elbow inflammation limited him to 126 innings in his first two seasons with his new organization, however.
All of Abreu's pitches grade out as plus or better when he commands them, beginning with a 94-98 mph fastball that tops out at 101 with sink and run. His power breaking ball can absolutely wipe out right-handers, combining curveball depth with slider velocity in the mid-80s. His fading changeup can shut down lefties, though it wasn't as effective in 2018 as it was in the past.
Abreu has a short-arm delivery that provides deception but sometimes hampers him from locating his pitches. He doesn't dominate as much as he should because he needs more consistency with his secondary pitches and better command of his entire arsenal. If he can't do that and heads to the bullpen, he could fill a high-leverage role.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
Gary Sanchez's development made Brian McCann redundant on the Yankees, so they sent McCann to the Astros for right-handers Abreu and Jorge Guzman in November 2016. While McCann helped Houston win the 2017 World Series, New York has no complaints with the deal because Abreu shows the upside of a frontline starter and Guzman became the headline prospect in the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Marlins. Signed for $185,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Abreu has missed time with a shoulder strain, appendectomy and elbow inflammation the last two years but has impressed when he has taken the mound.
When Abreu is at his best, he exhibits command of three pitches that all grade as plus or better. His fastball usually runs from 93-98 mph, tops out in the triple digits and features sink and run that generate both swings and misses as well as weak ground-ball contact. His power breaking ball looks like a curveball at times and a slider at others, more often the former, and he also can miss bats with his fading changeup.
Abreu has a bit of a short-arm delivery that adds deception, making him all the more difficult to hit. His walk rate dropped from 4.5 per nine innings in three years in the Astros system to 3.0 in his first with the Yankees, quieting talk that he might be destined for the bullpen. He still needs more consistency with his secondary pitches and his command but made encouraging progress in those areas last year.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
His $185,000 bonus may have ranked just eighth among Astros international signees during the 2013-14 period, but Abreu quickly established himself as the best prospect from that crop. After he made a strong U.S. debut in 2015 and successfully navigated low Class A last year, the Yankees acquired him and fellow righty flamethrower Jorge Guzman in exchange for Brian McCann in November.
Abreu's fastball has jumped from 87-91 mph when he turned pro to 93-98 these days, peaking at 100 and eliciting ground balls as well as swings and misses thanks to its sink and run. There's not much consensus on which is his best secondary pitch, because they all show potential yet also lack consistency. He throws two distinct power breaking balls as well as a fading changeup.
Abreu has the potential to become a frontline starter, but he also gave a glimpse of his upside as a reliever by recording a 0.65 ERA and a .481 opponents' OPS in eight bullpen appearances last year. New York plans on keeping him in the rotation, and his quick arm and sound delivery fit in that role. To stay there, he'll need to improve his control and command while refining his secondary offerings.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Abreu signed out of the Dominican Republic for $185,000, just the eighth-highest bonus the Astros paid to sign an international player in 2013. He since has established himself as the best prospect from Houston's crop that year, skipping a level to make a strong U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2015 and blowing away low Class A hitters this year. He joined the Yankees in November, going to New York with fellow righty prospect Jorge Guzman in a trade for seven-time All-Star Brian McCann.
Abreu's fastball jumped from 87-91 mph when he turned pro to 93-97 mph two years later, peaking at 99. He backs up his heat with a pair of power breaking balls and a changeup with some fade. His slider is probably his best secondary pitch, though some scouts prefer his changeup.
Though Abreu has the potential to become a frontline starter, he's a long way from getting there. He has a quick arm and not a lot of effort in his delivery, but he's still learning to repeat it. Though his control and command need polish, he has the upside to pitch in the front half of a big league rotation.