2011 Scouting Reports for Abreu, Smith
22. Abner Abreu – Outfielder
Born: 10/24/1989 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 170 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Strengths: Abreu is an athletic player who has an effortless swing that generates excellent bat speed and combines it with some very good raw power where the ball just explodes off his bat. He is a very aggressive hitter so is prone to strikeouts, but shows an innate ability to square the ball up when he makes contact and crushes balls to all fields and can hit the ball out to any part of any ballpark. His strong hands and wrists help create a natural whip in his swing, and he has a very quick bat on inside pitches that allows him to really drive the ball pull side. The Indians recently made a subtle adjustment to his stance as he was standing too straight up and now have him leaning more forward which has helped him get a better load at the plate.
Abreu is only an average runner, but he plays above his speed on the bases and in the outfield because of his athleticism. He has a loose, wiry frame with very long legs and arms, a build similar to his favorite player Alfonso Soriano. Last offseason he added about 15-20 pounds to his listed weight of 170 pounds, and as he continues to mature physically and grow into his body it could lead to more strength and plus power down the road at the major league level. He is a quiet player, but is very patient, confident and a hard worker. He also speaks good English, which helps him communicate and fit in better with his American teammates.
While Abreu’s offensive performance can be erratic, his defense is very consistent and he is the best defensive corner outfielder in the Indians’ system. He was originally signed as a shortstop and then was moved to third base in 2008, but in 2009 the Indians decided to take advantage of his athleticism and excellent throwing arm by putting him in the outfield because they believed he could be an impact defender there. So far it has been a very positive move as some scouts have compared his defensive ability in right field to that of a young Vladimir Guerrero. He glides to the ball and shows a lot of range moving well to his left and right, and comes in and goes back on balls very well. As he continues to fill out his range may drop a little, but he projects as a well above average defensive outfielder with excellent arm strength and accuracy.
Opportunities: The Indians have worked extensively with Abreu on his approach, mindset and plan at the plate to improve his plate discipline issues. He is often over-aggressive at the plate and gets himself out where he is pulling off pitches and not staying on them like he should be which results in a lot of strikeouts and poorly hit balls. He needs to continue to work on staying within himself and let things come naturally instead of over-swinging and trying to show his incredible raw power. He has a tendency to get too geared up for the fastball, which makes him very susceptible to offspeed pitches. He needs to do a better job of recognizing pitches and show that he can hit offspeed stuff, and his two strike approach needs a lot of work. He needs to work on strengthening his core and the mental side of his game.
The hopes for some improvement with Abreu’s high strikeout rate and low walk rate did not happen last year as his strikeout rate got worse (3.6 AB/K in 2009, 3.1 AB/K in 2010). He also saw significant dips in on-base percentage (.351 in 2009, .298 in 2010) and slugging percentage (.488 in 2009, .362 in 2010). The one hope here is since he was coming off a significant shoulder injury in 2009, maybe with another offseason of rehab and some improved confidence he can get back to his expected performance levels. It can take a player awhile to come back from a serious lead arm shoulder injury and rid himself of any uncertainties and apprehensiveness in order to have full confidence that he can swing without pain and not reinjure it, which is something similar that fellow Tribe farmhand Jared Goedert has gone through recently.
Outlook: Abreu did not live up to his promise last season as he had one of the most disappointing years of any prospect in the Indians’ system. From a power and defensive standpoint, he is still one of the most exciting players in the system, but his struggles at the plate with making consistent contact and avoiding strikeouts is a huge concern and will be the determining factor of what he becomes as a prospect. His ceiling is still unlimited and he has not peaked both physically or mentally, so there is still a lot of time to develop him and harness his impressive collection of tools. He is still a priority prospect for the Indians and the hope is that with a full season under his belt after shoulder surgery in 2009 along with the bad taste his 2010 left in his mouth that he will come back and make some very positive strides in this season. He should open the 2011 season by returning to High-A Kinston, but if he plays well he could move to Double-A Akron by midseason.
88. Carlton Smith - Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 01/23/1986 – Height: 6’2” – Weight: 205 – Bats: Left – Throws: Right
Strengths: Smith pounds the zone with a 91-93 MPH sinking fastball that has touched 96 MPH, and complements it with a cutter, slider, and splitter. While he gets good life and movement on his fastball, he does not rack up very many strikeouts because of his pitch to contact approach. He works his sinker well to the bottom of the zone which results in a lot of groundball outs. His slider is an above average offering which he consistently throws in the zone. He picked up a cutter at the start of last season and had mixed results with it, and his splitter is a fringe average offering.
Smith is a very durable pitcher, consistent performer, and he goes right after hitters. He has made strides with repeating his delivery, commanding his fastball, and throwing his secondary stuff consistently for strikes. Every year he has shown improved command and a more consistent delivery which in turn has helped the quality of his stuff. He mixes speeds and changes the eye level of his pitches well. He is quiet by nature and keeps to himself, but has an excellent work ethic that was instilled in him by his brother and father.
Opportunities: Smith’s lack of a true put away pitch may have shown itself last year as he struggled to get outs at the Triple-A level. He needs to continue to refine his secondary pitches and keep working on consistently commanding his sinker in order to limit the good swings opposing hitters get on him. Since everything he throws is hard, he may be better off picking up a changeup or another slower offspeed pitch which may help make his mid-90s sinker more effective and more of a strikeout pitch.
Outlook: Even with how hard Smith throws and all the movement he gets on his pitches he has never racked up a lot of strikeouts. His bread and butter has always been his ability to pitch to contact in lieu of strikeouts, and for the most past that plan of attack has worked out well for him. He has proven he can dominate at the Double-A level, but he really struggled last year at Triple-A Columbus allowing almost two base-runners per inning. He is a minor league free agent at the end of the season, and considering there are several bullpen options ahead of him on the Indians’ pecking order for the big league squad, he may not come back. He will likely open the 2011 season in Columbus and pitch there all season unless he is traded or released.
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