Winston Abreu of the Greenville Braves works out in Greenville Memorial Stadium in Greenville, S.C., taken June 14-17, 2001. Photo by Tom Priddy.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that former Greenville Brave pitcher Winston Abreu has been named Minor League Baseball’s Triple-A reliever of the year.
I get out to the ballpark early most days, and I see the players who take extra infield, or extra batting practice or extra running and weights. And I don’t think anyone I’ve seen worked harder or longer than Winston Abreu.
Signed by the Braves in 1993, Abreu has been all over the minors and has attracted the attention of baseball coaches, too.
“He’s a good pitcher and a great kid,” Durham manager Charlie Montoyo told Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. “He’s one of my favorites. I could talk about him all day. He’s the first guy at the clubhouse every day working out, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I have to tell him to slow down, it’s a long season, but he says ‘This is just how I am.’”
I photographed him in Greenville in 2000 and 2001, and then lost track of him for several years. I wrote about him (link below) in 2006 when he made his his Major League debut.
Writes Mayo: “The 32-year-old went 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA and 15 saves in 37 games for Durham. He gave up just 23 hits over 51 innings for a ridiculous .133 batting average against while walking only 16 and striking out 77. He played a big part in helping the Bulls reach the International League playoffs, then saved four games in six scoreless outings to get them to the Triple-A National Championship Game.”
So far he’s only had a cup of coffee with two Major League organizations. But maybe that will change in 2010. It’s about time.