It is crunch time across the baseball subspace as Major League Baseball finds itself less than a month out from the amateur draft. As we gear up for what may be one of the least cemented first rounds in recent memory, it bodes well for Chicago Cubs fans – and baseball fans, in general – to look beyond the first-round toward talent in the early-to-middle rounds of the 20-round event this year.
One such talent is University of Virginia pseudo-starter Andrew Abbott. The newly 22-year-old left-hander is in his final season at UVA and has undoubtedly caught national attention as of late. His Cavaliers are facing Tennessee in the Super Regionals at the College World Series. But, on Sunday, in a matchup sure to impress, it was Abbott who captained the ship.
Tennessee is ranked third in the nation, and Abbott mowed through their powerful lineup like a knife through hot butter. The lefty struck out ten in six shutout innings and certainly helped cement his draft status come July. Across Abbott’s first consistent year as a starter, he finished his senior campaign with a 3.04 ERA across 16 starts and a 13.59 K/9 rate.
Chicago Cubs Draft: Left-handed pitching depth is a dire need for this team
Outside of his performance in his College World Series Super Regional start or his 2021 production overall, Abbott would help bridge the depth gap for the Cubs with an additional left-handed arm. It is solidified, too, that Abbott provides more stability as a college prospect who is on his way out the door at Virginia.
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Baseball America recently released their most in-depth ‘big board’ chronicling the top 500 prospects (subscription required). Abbott finds himself ranked number 67 overall after a previous position outside of the top 100 names. He previously sat at 116th, which shows the massive leap in status only a month away from draft day.
Top overall prospect Brailyn Marquez is, right now, the only left-handed starting pitcher in the top 30. However, it remains to be seen long-term if he will remain a starter leading to the process to scout Abbott even more critical. Abbott, who was drafted by the New York Yankees first in 2017 in the 36th round, has inevitably morphed into a top three-round talent heading into the 2021 draft.
Abbott brings with him to the table a fastball that sits in the low-90s with an ability to touch in the mid-90s, sometimes elevating to 98. Abbott also has a nice 12-to-6 breaking ball and changeup in his repertoire.
One remarkable fact is his coachability and that former closer Billy Wagner coached Abbott in high school. Abbott had not started more than a couple of games in a season before this year which laments belief in his talent either as a starter or a reliever. Many believe he should give the starter route a go with the pen as a solid backup option.
Since 2016, the Cubs have selected a slew of college arms and lean into their pitching depth in this way instead of going the prep route, which is the less risky course of action. As a result, it is doubtful Abbott sneaks into the first round, which allows the Cubs to scout his talent in the second round.
After his dominant performance on Sunday, the lefty from Virginia is surely on plenty of radars right now. But the North Side of Chicago would provide a perfect landing spot for his talents.