Abreu goes seven in Thunder shutout
Feel good, pitch good. It sounds simple, but it's the truth for Albert Abreu.In his longest outing of the season, the Yankees' third-ranked prospect fired seven scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and two walks, striking out six, as Double-A Trenton blanked Harrisburg, 2-0, on Friday at Arm & Hammer
Feel good, pitch good. It sounds simple, but it's the truth for
In his longest outing of the season, the Yankees' third-ranked prospect fired seven scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and two walks, striking out six, as Double-A Trenton blanked Harrisburg, 2-0, on Friday at Arm & Hammer Park.
"He's been getting after it," Thunder pitching coach Tim Norton said. "He's been ready for the first pitch of every inning, not easing into it, just kind of getting after it right from the get-go. He settled in and got in a good rhythm."
Nationals No. 2 prospect
The native of the Dominican Republic didn't allow another hit until his final inning. After issuing a leadoff walk to
Gameday box score
Finding a way to pitch out of trouble in key spots is a vital step in his development.
"You're starting to see it coming out of him in big spots, making big pitches and limiting damage, which is huge," Norton said. "Once in a while, you're going to have those big innings. He's getting closer and closer to consistently leave guys out there in big spots. He came off the mound fired up, and he should have been, tight game like that. It was huge."
Abreu threw 55 of 84 pitches for strikes in his first scoreless start of the season. The two free passes were the fewest he's allowed since walking a pair against New Hampshire on April 24. In his previous two starts, the 6-foot-2 righty issued 10 free passes over 10 2/3 innings, including a six-walk outing on May 24 at Binghamton, where he surrendered a season-high six runs in five frames.
"He's put together a really good stretch the last six or seven games," Norton said. "The last one was a dud, of course, with the walks and everything. But he's been in a great spot."
Abreu has begun rounding into form this month. Prior to the Binghamton outing, he yielded five runs -- four earned -- over 24 2/3 innings in his previous four outings.
Throwing the ball over the plate is always an emphasis, and Norton described Friday's performance "a comeback start" in that regard.
"Everything he has is good," the pitching coach said. "He has a terrific arm, two plus off-speed pitches. They just need to show up more consistently, and they're starting to. He's not far away. It's just about being consistent. I know that's the everyday answer, but he has what it takes so that when he needs to make a pitch, he makes a pitch."
Abreu lowered his ERA to 4.11 and has 43 strikeouts over 50 1/3 innings. On Friday, his 65-grade fastball reached 100 mph as late as the fourth inning and his curveball was particularly sharp. The uptick in velocity is something Norton has seen more of this season. His fastball sat typically in the mid-90s last year.
"He came to us with that [velocity]," the pitching coach said. "Like a lot of guys, it fluctuates over two to three years.
"I think his arm just feels better this year, and you're starting to see him sit at 97, 98 in some starts."
Abreu's health also has improved. He had three separate stints on the injured list in 2018, when all but one of his non-rehab starts were with Class A Advanced Tampa. Certain pitchers, Norton said, pitch differently when their arm feels better.
"It might be for a few months, it might be for a year," he said. "I think that's just kind of the life of a pitcher, where it just doesn't feel 100 percent for a pitcher. He's coming out of the gates every game getting after it, and it's coming out hot. I'm sure it feels a little better, overall."
Nationals No. 24 prospect
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.