Willie Abreu, Miami Hurricanes and Asheville Tourists

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Asheville Tourists right fielder Willie Abreu (6) swings at a pitch during a game against the Greenville Drive at McCormick Field on April 15, 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina. The Tourists defeated the Drive 5-4. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

Asheville Tourists right fielder Willie Abreu. (Tony Farlow)

Outfielder Willie Abreu earned all-conference honors in each of his three seasons with the Miami Hurricanes. As a youngster growing up in the Miami area, he always dreamed of going to the U and playing for one of the nation’s top college programs. The Hurricanes had struggled for a couple of years prior to Abreu’s arrival, but his presence along with the likes of catcher Zack Collins, fellow outfielder Jacob Heyward and numerous other players, the team returned to its glorious past and advanced to the College World Series in 2015 and 2016.

Selected in sixth round of 2016 of the Major League Baseball Draft by Colorado Rockies, Abreu served as a Hurricane captain as a sophomore and junior. One of only four players to start all 64 games for Miami in 2016, he batted .285 with 14 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 56 RBIs during his final collegiate campaign. His .510 slugging percentage was good for second on the ‘Canes, while his 56 RBIs were third-most on team. Abreu also batted .295 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in ACC play. He hit a walk-off grand slam against Louisville (March 18) to send head coach Jim Morris to 1,500th career win and finished the contest with two home runs and a career-best seven RBIs in same game against Cardinal. He connected on a second walk-off home run in a one-week span in a 9-8 win over Clemson, on March 25. Named to Coral Gables Regional All-Tournament Team, Abreu hit a two-run homer in the regional finale vs. Long Beach State (June 5). He proceeded to lead the team with a .583 average (7-for-12) in the NCAA Super Regional vs. Boston College and then went 2-for-4 in the College World Series opener vs. Arizona (June 18).

In his first 69 games this season with the Asheville Tourists, Abreu owned a .257 batting average with five home runs and 40 RBIs. He also had 19 doubles and four triples, and stole 18 bases in his first 22 attempts. With his raw power, above-average speed and overall ability, Abreu is still developing and making steady improvements that could one day lead him to the major leagues.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).