As the White Sox finished an abysmal 63-99 last season, they look to improve for the upcoming season with several new additions, including manager Brad Ausmus and Cuban sensation Jose Abreu. The White Sox front office signed Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract in the offseason. The 6’3″ 255 pound monster crushed the Cuban leagues the past few seasons making it appear like Little League a second time through. Additionally, he has been heavily lauded for his incredible work ethic through spring training thus far. Frequently arriving first and leaving last, Abreu has made a wonderful impression on his teammates for his desire to succeed at the highest level of baseball. He has also been known to take a professional approach to batting practice and often works on taking the ball to the opposite field rather than crushing home runs whenever he can. This heavily contrasts that of Yasiel Puig, who prides himself in his showmanship and ability to hit consistent home runs during BP.
While Puig is known for his power in the batter’s box, Abreu has had his fair share of smashed windows and blistering moonshots when he steps to the plate. However, his teammates and coaches commend him for his stark ability to put the barrel to the ball regardless of where it is pitched. In my opinion, this is much more impressive for a professional hitter when compared to putting on a laser show of home runs. With many international players experience success as pitchers, it will be interesting to see how Abreu will stand up against MLB pitching after being so dominant in the Cuban leagues.
Here is a look at Abreu’s statistical breakdown during his career in Cuba. What impresses me the most is the combination of high power numbers while hitting for a ridiculously high batting average during that span. Over the course of the past 5 years, Abreu hit above .340 every year while hitting 30+ home runs 3 out of the 5 years. While his average will undoubtedly suffer in the big leagues, he still have the power numbers to be competitive in the home run category. Without a doubt, Abreu will be an immense asset for the White Sox lineup and will be an interesting sight to watch during his inaugural season in the Major Leagues.
In addition to his stellar work ethic and impressive numbers over the course of his career so far, Abreu has a strong and caring presence off the field as well. In addition to being committed to learn English, he has also taken an interest with interacting with disabled youth throughout his career. He was known to have befriended a disabled child during his time in Cuba and additionally was spotted interactive with a disabled kid during a fan-fest with the White Sox. In time of greed and selfishness in professional sports, it is refreshing to see that it does not necessarily extend to athletes around the world.
As Abreu begins to adjust to the highly increased competition of the Majors, he will most likely be eased into the White Sox’s lineup, as they still have Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko for a rotation at first base and designated hitter. Regardless of the exposure he sees in the lineup and of his successes and failures as a professional baseball player, I hope to see this passion with disabilities carry into philanthropic efforts for Abreu, as he can make a difference with his newfound influence and money.