Andrew Abbott has been carving up minor-league batters all season while the Reds have struggled to find a serviceable arm for the back of their rotation. On Tuesday, Cincinnati designated fifth starter Luis Cessa for assignment, opening a spot in the rotation. For now, we’re being led to believe that 31-year-old journeyman Ben Lively will jump into the open spot on Saturday. We’re here to say that Abbott will be up by next week, whether it be for that Saturday start or on Sunday in Luke Weaver’s spot.
Abbott started the season on an amazing run for Double-A Chattanooga, racking up 36 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings with a minuscule 1.15 ERA in three starts. That got the 23-year-old lefty promoted to Triple-A Louisville, where he has posted a 3.00 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 15 innings. He last started on Sunday, so Abbott is set up to be ready to start either of the Reds’ weekend games at Miami. If the Reds would rather Abbott make his debut in front of his home fans, he could get the call for the following weekend’s series against the Yankees in Cincinnati.
Abbott was drafted in the second round out of Virginia in 2021 as a pitchability lefty, but quickly showed a penchant for striking out batters with 22 Ks in 13 innings between the Arizona Complex League and Low-A. He came out of the gates blazing in 2022 as well, torching the High-A Midwest League for 40 strikeouts in 27 innings with a 0.67 ERA to quickly earn a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga. Abbott cooled off in Double-A, posting a 4.75 ERA with 119 strikeouts in 91 innings.
The Double-A Southern League is experimenting with pre-tacked balls for the first half of this season, so there were some concerns that Abbott’s dominant first three starts were due in part to the enhanced grip that may produce more induced vertical break. The fact that Abbott is still shredding in Triple-A has helped alleviate those concerns.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder doesn’t wow you with velocity, but he did add 1.5 ticks to his fastball since last season. He features a fastball that sits 92-95 mph and appears to rise out of his hand, allowing him to get whiffs up in the zone. He added a new sweeping slider late last season that he has polished into a weapon and he’s throwing an improved changeup more often.
With tremendous command and an upgraded arsenal, Abbott appears ready to get thrown into the gauntlet that is Cincinnati’s home ballpark. Pitching half his games in Great American Ballpark certainly caps Abbott’s ceiling, but the strikeouts could make him similarly valuable to Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene.
For fantasy, Abbott should be added in any dynasty leagues he’s still available in, and he can be added in all but the shallowest leagues if you need a boost in strikeouts. See where Abbott ranks in our weekly-updated Top 500 prospects.
If Abbott could get to 120 innings, which would put him at a combined 150 with his work in the minors, we could be looking at 140 strikeouts with an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP about 1.25. If you avoid home starts against good teams, the ratios could be more like a 3.50 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. For dynasty purposes, he has the upside of a top-50 starting pitcher.