Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.
If you ever need an example of just how difficult it is to make it to the Major Leagues, look no further than Adam Abraham.
Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 13th round of the 2008 Draft out of the University of Michigan, Abraham just completed his fifth season within the team’s minor league system.
On paper, Abraham seems to have some pretty desirable traits: good size, some right-handed power and versatility to boot. However, as of now, it seems as if Abraham may be a long shot to ever make the big league club.
That’s not to say that Abraham has not had a successful minor league career. On the contrary, Abraham has carved out a nice five-year tenure with the Tribe’s various minor league affiliates.
However, the road to the Major Leagues is a long one and while Abraham could still one day make the Major League club, he may also be destined to finish his professional baseball career exactly where it started: the minor leagues.
After being selected by the Indians in the 2008 Draft, Abraham quickly began his professional career with the Gulf Coast Indians. Abraham played in only 40 games that summer and stayed mostly at first base. In all honesty, the results were not overly impressive (.214/.314/.382 in 131 at-bats), but that could be expected given it was his first time facing professional pitching.
Abraham spent the following season at Single-A Lake County, which is also the first time that Indians fans were able to see his versatility. Overall, Abraham caught 75 games that year while also spending time at first and third base. His offensive numbers also improved as he hit .257/.334/.389 with six home runs and 31 RBI in 104 games.
Abraham’s numbers improved even more during the 2010 season as he posted a .264/.330/.430 line in 114 games in what was his second straight season with the Captains. Additionally, this season marked the first year that Abraham displayed some power in his career as he recorded 13 home runs.
If there was a negative that could be found during that year, it was probably the fact that Abraham went back to playing third base (71 games) and first base (31 games). The move from behind the plate back to the infield signaled that the Indians were not really committed to developing Abraham as a catcher. It was a shame too because that is arguably where Abraham’s bat would have been most valuable.
Additionally, while there were some things to like about Abraham as an infielder (ex. his arm strength), he just does not have the athleticism to profile as an everyday first or third baseman, so the move back to the infield seemed to magnify some of his weaknesses.
Aside from some spot starts at catcher, Abraham stayed at third base during the 2011 season. Offensively, it was the best season of the Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan native’s career. In 130 games with High-A Kinston, Abraham compiled a .252/.360/.432 line with 17 home runs and 72 RBI. The power finally seemed to come along for Abraham, who finished sixth in the Carolina League in home runs.
While Abraham’s 2012 performance may not have necessarily made him a prospect, it at least put him on the map, and he became a player to watch moving forward.
Abraham spent the entire 2012 season at Double-A Akron and posted a .259/.343/.441 line in 108 games. He also recorded 13 home runs and 54 RBI.
While his numbers did take somewhat of a dip, the decline was not overly significant, and Abraham showed he was capable of handling pitchers at the Double-A level.
The 2012 season was also important for Abraham because it was essentially the first time in his career that the organization did not have him primarily playing just one position on defense. Instead, Abraham played a slew of positions, including first base (58 games), second base (1 game), third base (16 games), left field (2 games) and designated hitter (32 games).
Considering the season he just had, Abraham has basically now proven that he can play, and play effectively, in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He is likely considered organizational depth at this point and will probably begin the 2013 season back at Akron or at Triple-A Columbus.
He’s an attractive option for both Akron and Columbus because of the versatility that he brings to the table. A manager can basically place him anywhere in a pinch, which makes him extremely valuable to teams.
Unfortunately for Abraham, he may have already reached his peak as a prospect within the Indians system. In the past couple of years, Abraham has shown that his bat can be productive, but his bat is still by no means elite.
For him to ever be considered as even a Major League bench bat, Abraham must hit for a higher average, and he also must hit more consistently for power.
Abraham’s future is also difficult to predict because of his defensive woes. Because of his lack of athleticism, Abraham’s range is limited as an infielder, and that has also led to him not really having a true position. There are a lot of positions that he can play, but there is no position that he can play everyday.
However, it may also be too early to count Abraham out. He remains a tremendous worker, and he without a doubt wants to succeed as much as anyone else.
A best-case scenario for Abraham may be that he continues to improve his hitting and defensive skills and develops into a Jared Goedert-type player.
Though unfortunately for Abraham, even that may not be enough. We all know how Goedert’s tenure ended with the Indians. Let’s just hope that Abraham has a little more luck.
Previous Then & Now profiles:
- Nov. 20, 2012: Jesus Aguilar
- Nov. 15, 2012: Cord Phelps
- Nov. 6, 2012: Tim Fedroff
- Nov. 2, 2012: T.J. McFarland
- Oct. 27, 2012: Chen-Hsiu Chen
- Oct. 16, 2012: Danny Salazar
- Oct. 10, 2012: Paolo Espino
- Oct. 5, 2012: Jared Goedert
- Sept. 24, 2012: Hector Rondon
- Sept. 17, 2012: Nick Weglarz