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Meet The New Guy: Wilyer Abreu

With Jarren Duran out, an outfielder with lots of pop gets the call.

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Wilyer Abreu, who came over from the Houston Astros along with Enmanuel Valdez in last season’s Christian Vázquez trade. He’ll be making his Major League debut with the Red Sox in the coming days, as he’s been called up to replace Jarren Duran, who was just placed on the IL with a sore toe.

What position does he play?

He’s exclusively an outfielder, though it’s not yet clear what his best outfield spot is; he’s played 35 games in left this year, 27 in right, and 18 in center. He has a very strong arm and is a good athlete (he stole 31 bags in AA last year), so there’s hope that he can play at least adequate defense in Fenway’s massive right field (if not above average defense), while also serving as a backup center fielder.

Is he any good?

Well, if the sole metric you use to judge a player is how much power they display at the AAA level, then you’ll love this guy. But then again, looking at the game through that lens would lead you to believe that Bobby Dalbec is the next Babe Ruth.

Abreu has been on an absolutely insane power tear in Worcester this month, at one point hitting eight home runs over the course of seven games. He also complements that power with a patient approach at the plate; his 16.3% walk rate is the 17th-best in the entire International League amongst hitters with at least 250 plate appearances this year.

Unfortunately, he may be a little too patient. He takes a lot of pitches and strikes out too much as a result. So with Abreu, the big question is how much contact he’ll make at the big league level. If he ends up striking out close to 25-30% of the time in the big leagues (he’s at 20.4% in AAA this year), then he’ll probably end up with a batting average in the low .200s and will max out as a fourth outfielder. If he can improve upon that, the rest of his game is solid enough that he can be a Major League starter somewhere.

Show me a cool highlight.

There’s just something extremely satisfying about a home run that bounces off some kind of roof, isn’t there?

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Showing off a gorgeous haircut that makes him look like a wild stallion gazing across the open plains. And if you want the same look, you’re in luck: Abreu runs his own barber shop back home in Venezuela.

What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?

He was a strong candidate to get called up with the expanded rosters in September as it was, so he’s just getting a bit of a head start now. With both Abreu and Ceddanne Rafaela ready to either sink or swim at the big league level, Chaim Bloom has some decisions to make about the outfield this offseason, so you could consider the next five weeks as something of an extended tryout.