Andrew Abbott had been posting video-game-like numbers in the minors before he was promoted by Cincinnati to make his MLB debut.
Against Milwaukee on Monday, he still appeared to be pitching on rookie mode.
The 24-year-old southpaw dazzled against the NL Central's first-place squad, spinning six shutout innings against the Brewers. He allowed only one hit and four walks while striking out six in the outing.
The start wasn't just an impressive debut: it was historic. StatsPerform reported Abbott was the only left-hander in the modern era to hold a team scoreless across at least six innings with no more than a hit allowed and six or more punchouts.
ESPN Stats & Info reported he was only the second Reds pitcher since 1893 to allow a hit or fewer across six-plus innings, with Johnny Cueto in 2008 being the only other starter to accomplish the feat.
Andrew Abbott of the @Reds is the only left-hander in the modern era (on any team) to toss 6.0+ shutout innings with 6+ strikeouts and no more than 1 hit allowed in his MLB debut.— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) June 6, 2023
Andrew Abbott is the 2nd Reds pitcher since 1893 (when the mound was moved to its current distance) to go 6+ innings and allow 1 or fewer hits in his MLB debut, joining Johnny Cueto in 2008. pic.twitter.com/zuEVOH2wsU— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 6, 2023
While Abbott's four walks seem a bit high, three of them came during the first two innings when he was working to get settled into the game. He didn't walk another batter until the sixth inning and didn't allow a hit until a double from Joey Wiemer in the fifth inning.
"It probably took him until the second or third to really settle in and once he did that, he was really in command the rest of the game and used all his pitches," Reds manager David Bell said, according to MLB.com.
Just who is the young standout hurler? Here's what you need to know.
Who is Andrew Abbott?
Baseball fans would be forgiven for not knowing Abbott's name when the season began. He wasn't a former first-round pick. He largely didn't appear on any top prospect lists. He didn't throw 100 mph or have one of the nastiest off-speed pitches in the minors.
But Abbott just went out and pitched, just as he has since he was selected in the second round by the Reds back in 2021. At each level of the minors, he has pitched to a strikeout rate of at least 30.8 percent, including some mind-boggling numbers in 2023, when he started the season with a strikeout rate of 64.3 percent in Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A.
Abbott absolutely forced his way to the big leagues with his pitching. He spent only 15 2/3 innings at Double-A in 2023 and 38 1/3 innings at Triple-A before he was promoted to join the Reds rotation and start against the Brewers on Monday.
Where did Andrew Abbott go to college?
The southpaw from Halifax County High was originally drafted in the 36th round by the Yankees in 2017. However, he opted to go to Virginia after winning the 2017 Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year by finishing his senior season with a ridiculous 0.28 ERA with 158 strikeouts in just 72 2/3 innings of work.
Despite the hype around Abbott, he had a quiet start to his collegiate career. He was used almost exclusively as a reliever over his first three seasons in Charlottesville, making just three starts in the three seasons that included 57 total appearances. He found plenty of success as a reliever, posting a collective 3.25 ERA with 165 strikeouts and only 49 walks in 108 1/3 innings of work.
While it appeared Abbott had settled in as one of college baseball's most dominant relievers, he was shifted to the rotation for his senior year at Virginia. And he continued his ascension from there. Making 17 starts (19 total appearances), Abbott spun a sterling 2.87 ERA across 106 2/3 innings while striking out 162 batters and walking only 32.
During his career with the Cavaliers, Abbott had the second-most strikeouts in program history with 327, with his 162 punchouts in 2021 also being the second-most in a single season.
Andrew Abbott MLB draft
Abbott was first draft eligible in 2017, but after declining the chance to sign with the Yankees, he had to wait until 2020 to try to go to professional baseball. However, as a reliever without electric stuff, he went undrafted in the COVID-shortened 2020 draft that went to just five rounds. Rather than sign for a $20,000 bonus, Abbott decided to return to UVA and try to improve his stock.
That final campaign with the Cavaliers made a world of difference. Abbott went from undrafted in 2020 to the 53rd overall pick in 2021, hearing his name called by the Reds early in the second round of the draft.
Andrew Abbott stats
Abbott did not have much time in the minors when he was first signed. He pitched to a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings (six total outings) after he finished his lengthy season with the Cavaliers.
Abbott began the 2022 season at High-A, where in five appearances he pitched to a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings, prompting a quick promotion. Abbott had some issues at Double-A in his 20 starts and 91 innings with a 4.75 ERA. His walk rate of 10.6 percent was particularly concerning, but he still struck out 30.8 percent of batters and his 3.48 FIP indicated he should have had a much lower ERA.
During the 2023 campaign, however, he has been at a different level. Abbott put up gaudy numbers in Double-A, with a 1.15 ERA, -0.49 FIP, 64.3 percent strikeout rate and mere 5.4 percent walk rate across three starts (15 2/3 innings). The video-game-like numbers prompted a swift promotion to Triple-A.
The 24-year-old southpaw has experienced his first issues with the long ball, having given up eight home runs in 38 1/3 innings, but the rest of the numbers are glowing. He had a 34.8 percent strikeout rate, 9 percent walk rate and 3.05 ERA in 38 1/3 innings of work before his promotion to the majors.