Albert Abreu finished his time at Class A Advanced Tampa with one of his most consistent stretches of the year. With an opposing lineup playing right into his hands in his Double-A debut, the right-hander was even better.
Baseball's No. 75 overall prospect needed just 62 pitches to cruise through five hitless, scoreless innings as Double-A Trenton walked off on the final day of the regular season, beating Reading, 2-1.
Video: Trenton's Abreu finishes five hitless innings
"His stuff was terrific," Thunder pitching coach Tim Norton said. "He faced a last-day-of-the-season, really aggressive lineup, and he exposed them on it. He had all three of his pitches working. He pitched back to his fastball really good, but it seemed like that changeup was kind of the X-factor there. He threw a lot of strikes, working ahead, five easy innings for him. Riding that wave, he'd been doing good in Tampa and got a chance to come up and look good."
With no playoffs on the table to finish the 2018 campaign, Reading hitters were swinging early and often with the offseason just hours away, and Abreu used that philosophy to his advantage. After walking Austin Listi with one out in the first, the No. 4 Yankees prospect retired 13 straight before Austin Bossart reached on catcher's interference charged to Thunder backstop Chris Rabago with two outs in the fifth.
Gameday box score
"We talked about it a little bit because the last day of Spring Training, everybody's swinging a little bit [too]," Norton said. "It seems like the game goes by in an hour and a half. They were us there using the same bat today, and a lot of them were first pitch swinging. With a guy with Albert's stuff and pitchability, that makes for a tough approach. They seemed to be selling out for the last day, for sure."
Abreu induced a groundout to third by Jiandido Tromp for the final out of his start, closing five hitless frames with four strikeouts and a walk.
"I think he's coming up here to the Double-A level and proving to himself that he can dominate through the lineup a couple times," Norton said. "The stuff is there. It's always been there. It's just showing up every five days or every six days. It should be a good confidence booster for him going forward.
"When you get a taste of [Double-A] and have some success, you feel good about it coming into next year, proving yourself again and making another run at it. We still have some games to play, and he's going to be a valuable piece for us. For the offseason, it could tell him that he's more than capable of doing it."
On Sunday, No. 12 Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia threw five no-hit innings of his own to clinch the Thunder's second straight Eastern League Eastern Division title and earn a postseason trip, where he and Abreu will be part of their team's rotation.
"These guys have been tremendous all year really, especially the last two days having the young guys here," Norton said. "Going forward having those guys come in and be this good, it really puts us in a good spot. We've had a few guys all year from Day 1, but there have been a lot of guys filtering in and out the last few weeks. These two are really big pieces with what we're trying to do to finish the season."