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Albert Abreu Looks As Good As New

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When the Yankees traded Brian McCann to the Astros and handed the catching job to Gary Sanchez following the 2016 season, they received promising young Dominican righthanders Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.

The Yankees used Guzman to land Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins last December and believe the 23-year-old Abreu’s stuff remains the same caliber it was at the time of the deal. He made just 17 starts in 2018 because he missed most of April after having an appendectomy and most of July with elbow soreness.

Abreu spent most of the season at high Class A Tampa, where he recorded a 4.16 ERA in 62.2 innings while striking out 65, walking 29 and allowing 54 hits.

"Stuff-wise, he was the same pitcher as ever," one Florida State League evaluator said. "He has a big arm and a plus curveball and probably the best changeup I saw all year."

Abreu bumped 97-98 mph in the FSL and dropped 78-80 changeups on opposing batters with full arm speed and conviction.

"He’s going to throw strikes and command the ball, if he can repeat his delivery," the evaluator said. "I think he repeats his delivery really well, but he overthrows and . . . he needs to not try to whiff everyone."

Abreu, who signed as an international free agent in 2013, made one start for Double-A Trenton, in his final outing of the season on Sept. 3, and didn’t allow a hit or a run in five innings.

"I saw him pitch well in the Dominican (League) and at the end of instructional league, and he was back to where he was before, throwing 99 (mph),’’ pitching coordinator Danny Borrell said in mid-November. "His stuff is the same as when we got him from Houston.’’

Provided that Abreu stays healthy, he should get an extended taste of Double-A in 2019.

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YANKEE DOODLES

• Righthander Luis Medina repeated the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2018 but didn't solve his control problems. He walked 46 and struck out 47 in 36 innings while running up a 6.25 ERA. Still, the Yankees remain optimistic about the 19-year-old's future.

"He ended the year good, and I saw him in the Dominican throwing and I expect a huge season,’’ Borrell said of the Dominican righty who is listed at 6-foot-1. "He looks real good and is taller at 6-3 and probably still growing.

"I think it was one of those years. He was throwing 96-102 (mph) and had one of the best curveballs in the minors. There were games he didn’t throw a fastball below 97.’’

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