No Yankees prospects have seen their stock fall more the last few years than Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo, and Albert Abreue. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, those three pitchers have fallen well short of once lofty expectations. They’re all still at different stages of development, but time might be running out on these guys. This upcoming season is going to be a make or break one for each of these arms.
Following the 2017 season, things were looking bright for Adams. The former reliever had just eclipsed 150 innings with 135 strikeouts in 27 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. Even Hal Steinbrenner threw his confidence behind Adams that winter, but it appears the curse of James Pazos struck him, making his 2018 anything but successful.
Following offseason elbow surgery, Adams just wasn’t the same. His fastball velocity backed up significantly, and his slider lost some of its bite, making him more hittable than ever. The diminished stuff showed itself in the stats. In 113 innings at Triple-A, Adams posted a 4.78 ERA and saw significant increases to his walk and homer rates.
Coming into spring training, the level of optimism around a potential bounce-back season was high, but the results weren’t there. Even with a couple of rotation spots open, Adams was among those cut earlier this week. Since he’s in Triple-A, there’s a strong possibility he finds himself on the active roster for at least a few days this season. Now more than a full year removed from elbow surgery, all eyes will be on the radar gun to see if Adams’ velocity rebounds. If it doesn’t, it could very well be the end of his shot at the big leagues.
Just last season, MLB.com ranked Acevedo as the fourth-best Yankees prospect, but he’s fallen quite a ways since. The site now ranks him as 23rd, and that has everything to do with Acevedo’s performance and legitimate injury concerns.
Acevedo has spent time on the disabled list every season since making his stateside debut in 2014. Granted, not all the injuries have resulted in him missing significant time. He still threw 133 innings in 2017, but he hasn’t eclipsed 100 innings in any other season. In 2018, he missed significant time with blister issues and a biceps strain later in the year.
Unsurprisingly, all the time lost has taken its toll on Acevedo’s repertoire. He’s known for having a fastball that could hit 103 MPH, but nowadays he sits closer to mid-90s heat. It’s difficult to see how Acevedo could get big leaguers out. His slider has always graded as an average pitch. His low, three-quarter arm slot often prevents him from getting solid depth on the pitch, and his best off-speed offering, a changeup, got a 55-grade, which is somewhere between average and above average.
Coming in to spring training, Acevedo was healthy and didn’t have any restrictions, but he wasn’t good either. He gave up five runs, walked two, and hit one in his only appearance before being a part of the first round of cuts. For what it’s worth, it sounds like Acevedo did rather well yesterday in a minor league spring game.
Domingo Acevedo’s day is done. He went 4.2 innings and gave up just one. It came on an RBI double. Acevedo opened the game back-to-back doubles and settled in. #Yankees— DJ Eberle (@ByDJEberle) March 14, 2019
Like Adams, Acevedo has been in the system for a long time, but what we’re seeing with them isn’t prospect fatigue. These guys are falling from prospect grace. Adams went from a top 100 prospect to almost missing out on the Yankees’ top 30 list. Acevedo went from the 2017 Futures Game to nearly falling off the Yankees’ prospect list too. They truly have their backs against the wall this season.
On the other hand, we might be feeling a little bit of prospect fatigue with Abreu. Still just 23, I’d argue he has more leeway than Adams and Acevedo at this point. Regardless of his age, a similar fate awaits him if he can’t find a way to stay healthy in 2019.
No matter what level he’s been, Abreu has always flashed good stuff, but injuries have kept him from throwing 100 innings in any year since joining the Yankees prior to the 2017 season. He got a late start to last season because of appendicitis, but elbow trouble robbed him of more than a month last summer. Health is going to be a big factor when judging the success of his 2019 season.
Despite the missed time, Abreu still has electric stuff and definitely looked good at points last season. Check out some of his 2018 highlights:
RHP Albert Abreu played in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, where he made 6 starts and posted a 1.35 ERA. Here's a compilation of a few of his strikeouts from the 2018 season: pic.twitter.com/Dm0aEWDchY— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) March 2, 2019
Abreu did look pretty good in his three spring training appearances with the big league club, but without a real shot at a spot on the roster, he was cut earlier this week. He should begin the season at Double-A.
Abreu probably isn’t entering a true make or break year, FanGraphs and MLB.com ranked him as 6th and 3rd, respectively, on their Yankees’ top prospects lists. Still, Abreu will be headed down the path of a failed prospect with more injury trouble this season. Staying healthy for a season would be a major step forward.
The last couple of seasons haven’t been kind to these three pitchers. Adams and Acevedo, in particular, have seen their stock drop much lower than it once was at a time when the Yankees’ system was thinning out. Similarly, another injury-plagued season for Abreu would set him down the same path. Without a strong 2019 season, it would be difficult to count on these players to be future contributors to a big league team.