Tampa, FL – The Yankees and the Braves boast two of the deepest farm systems in baseball. On Saturday night May 12th, two of their highest rated prospects faced off against one another. Albert Abreu of the Tampa Tarpons and Ian Anderson of the Florida Fire Frogs. Abreu and Anderson are each ranked 6th overall in their organizations and both are considered Top 100 prospects on numerous lists.
Abreu was dominant, allowing 2 hits, 2 runs (1 ER) while walking two and striking out 7 in 6 IP. Abreu featured a fastball that sat at 95-97 all night. He touched 98 once. What makes Abreu special are his secondary pitches. He features a plus slider at 82 mph with tilt. Abreu used the slider to front door RH and backdoor lefties, keeping both off balance and uncomfortable. His change-up was plus as well. Sitting at 85-86 mph, his change-up has nice downward fade.
Abreu has simple mechanics. His upper half is quiet while his lower half is thick and strong. Abreu stays tall and drives off his back leg. He has a fast arm and does an excellent job of staying balanced. The most impressive thing is his ability to sit at 97 with his fastball without being a max effort guy. Abreu threw 76 pitches with 50 for strikes.
Ian Anderson more than held his own, facing a much tougher lineup, that featured Estevan Florial, Greg Bird, and Billy McKinney. Bird and McKinney were on rehab assignments. Anderson pitched 5 IP allowing 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 BB, and 7 K. He was also a bit unlucky. He allowed 2 runs in the 2nd inning, however, both runs came on the benefit of a misplayed line drive in the sun by Shean Michel.
Anderson also featured a three-pitch mix. His fastball sat 95-96 in th first inning before settling in around 93-94. His change-up was 86-87 early before dipping to 83-84. Anderson also throws a curveball with 10-6 action at 79. Anderson struggled with fastball command, issuing the four walks, but did his best work with his back against the wall. He struck out Greg Bird twice, once with the bases loaded.
Anderson’s best pitch is his change-up. It featured plus fade, good arm action and deception, and was thrown with confidence in all counts. He kept both lefties and righties off balance all night. Anderson’s change got a lot of swing and misses and weak contact. His curveball is tight with a ton of downward plane. He mixed it in nicely second and third time through the order. on the evening, Anderson threw 94 pitches. 52 for strikes.
Mechanically, Anderson is a bit different than Abreu. He has a tall, lean, athletic frame. He has a fast arm, loose through the hips, and stays in line with home plate. Anderson lands on a stiff front leg, a la Justin Verlander. His head will move as his delivery is much more effort than Abreu and Anderson does tend to overthrow. For the most part though, he stays balanced and keeps the fastball down in the zone. Most of the damage he allowed were on fastballs left up in the zone.
Both pitchers were as advertised with Abreu being a bit more polished with cleaner mechanics and improved control. I would profile both as middle of the rotation starters. Abreu has three pitches that I would grade 60+ with 55 command and 55 FV. I would grade Anderson’s FB 55, CB 50, and CH 60 with 45 command and 55 FV. Anderson just turned 20 on May 2 while Abreu is 22. The future is pretty bright for both.
- The Tarpons won the game 4-3. Abreu picked up with win. Jon Kennedy the loss.
- Adonis Rosa threw 3 innings to secure the save. His FB sat 92 with a tight 83 SL. I last saw him on 4/19/18, where he struggled against Daytona. He was hit hard in 3.1 IP. His stuff plays up in the bullpen
- Cristian Pache went 1-12 in the series while Estevan Florial was 3-11 with 3 BB. Florial has reached base in 29 straight games.
- Braxton Davidson and Taylor Murphy hit solo HR for Florida. Davidson’s was on a 3-2 FB from Abreu.
- Greg Bird went 3-8 with 3BB and 2 K during the 3 game series