With their seventh-round selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected Kevin Abel, a right-handed pitcher from Oregon State. Abel enjoyed a decorated career as a member of the Oregon State baseball team.
His career has already been hampered by an injury. He missed the entirety of the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is one of the most intimidating surgeries and injuries that a pitcher can undergo. Abel bounced back well in the 2021 season.
He had a tremendous freshman season where he held an 8-1 record with a 2.88 ERA. In his only other full season of college baseball, he posted a 3.62 ERA. This was his first season post-surgery.
Kevin Abel Filth from last night (11Ks in 5ip). 😷
2018 College World Series Legend. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/BNPEWbe8j3
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 26, 2021
Kevin Abel is not the prototypical pitching prospect that the Reds target. The Reds typically stick to higher velocity guys, especially if they are right-handed. Abel though only sits around 88-91 with the fastball. This is where his pitchability comes into play.
Kevin Abel knows how to get hitters out. He has a good feel for multiple pitches and knows how to attack hitter. More importantly than all, he is a competitor, through and through. He is an aggressive pitcher that thrives off of a challenge.
To go along with these mental aspects, Abel has two incredible secondary offerings. He has one of the best changeups in the entire class of 2021 pitchers. He uses this offering as well as his above-average curveball. These pitches make up a majority of his arsenal as he is an off-speed dominant pitcher.
Even with a fastball that lacks elite velocity, Abel has shown a lack of control in the past. For most of his college career, he hasn’t proved to have the command needed to succeed. This has led to him being a wild pitcher and issuing a lot of walks. In 3 seasons at Oregon State, he issued 116 walks in 179.66 innings pitched. To put that in comparison, he allowed just 106 hits in his college career.
Along with the walk problems, he also had a problem with hitting batters. In his 2021 campaign, he threw 82 innings. In those 82 innings, he hit 17 batters. That is an absurdly high number, especially for just a singular season.
For Kevin Abel to be an effective pitcher in the Reds minor league system, he is going to need to polish up his command. The Reds hope that this can be done sooner rather than later. The Reds also have a good amount of confidence in him or they wouldn’t have used such a high pick on him.
Kevin Abel does not have as high of a ceiling as some of the previous picks in this year’s draft. He is pitching after a serious arm surgery and has already shown that the velocity has been down a bit since surgery. He does have a higher floor than most prospects that the Reds have drafted, due to his maturity and how developed his off-speed pitches are.
This pick was a low-risk, low reward for the Reds.
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