If you have been following Minor League Baseball this season, you may have heard the name Andrew Abbott once, or twice, or three, or four times. A name that was way under the radar at this time last year is now the fastest rising prospect in (maybe) all of baseball... But how exactly did this happen?
Prior to September 1st last year, the lefty was sporting a 5.70 ERA - but still showing tools that made him a prospect to watch. The delivery was incredibly repeatable, the curveball was a plus (flashing plus-plus) pitch, and the fastball sat 92-93 (t95) with life. The combination was a perfect pairing with his level changing slurve-like curveball. However, the control - or lack thereof - of his fastball was leading to walks and an inability to get outs. A flip was switched though. Once September 2022 rolled around, things started to change and Abbott finished the month with 16 scoreless innings, 21 strikeouts and just three walks. This dominance has continued through today - and thanks to the development of his improved command and control, changeup, and an outrageous CSW rate, he is the current MiLB leader in strikeouts over the first month of the 2023 season. In 2022, between High-A and Double-A, Abbott finished with a 3.81 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12.13 K/9 and 3.88 BB/9 in 24 starts. Of those starts, 20 of them came in Double-A where Abbott sported a 4.75 ERA, but a 3.48 FIP.
In 2023, Abbott is having one of the best statistical starts to a season in Minor League Baseball history. Over 30.2 innings, the lefty has recorded 60 strikeouts and allowed just nine walks. The former Virginia Cavalier is able to work so well outside of the strike zone, and has limited opponents to just three home runs so far in 2023. Prior to his promotion to Triple-A, Abbott sported a decent -0.46 FIP in three starts at Double-A. The ceiling for the 2021 second round pick has materialized and there might not be much left to prove at this point in the Minors. Delving into his May 2nd start (his second at Triple-A), we can see just how absolutely dominant, talented and (maybe, just maybe) Major League ready he is. There is plenty of eye-popping data on the southpaw - but what has always been an X-factor to me since his time on the Cape in 2019 was his ability to tunnel his three pitches. There is still work to be done here, but he is continuing to positively blend his release point of his three pitches as he develops.
(Source: Baseball Savant and Statcast data from Abbott’s 5/2 start at Triple-A)
The fact that all of Abbott’s pitches are now being thrown for strikes, both in the zone and out of it, against Triple-A competition should have any potential dynasty owners, Reds fans, and future 2024 Best Ball owners fired up.
Sadly, however, the rising lefty had to come back to Earth at some point. Abbott's most recent start (5/7) was perhaps his worst in eight months - as his stat line read 5 IP, 3 ER, 9 Ks, 7 hits , 1 BB, and 2 HR. The fact that this is a true outlier from Abbott says all you need to know about how he is performing. Unfortunately, there were a couple pitches that were uncharacteristically left in spots for hitters to take advantage of - as Abbott moved from one to three home runs allowed on the year. Regardless, the stuff was still there and he was able to work in and out of the zone effectively for the most part.
The timeline on Abbott's promotion is definitely unclear as there are a few prospects within the Reds system who are Major League ready (see Christian Encarnacion-Strand), but might be kept in Triple-A to continue developing. While the data and the scouting report says Abbott is worthy of a spot in the Bigs - there is no question that the lefty can still use some refinement. The fact that Cincinnati is clearly in a stage of rebuild likely means a promotion is likely for the end of 2023 or 2024 Opening Day at the latest. Despite the murkiness on when Abbott will be donning a Reds uniform, you should continue to keep your eyes on the quickest rising prospect in all of baseball.