After a few bumps in the road, right-handed pitcher Kevin Abel has returned to be very good this season for the Oregon State Beavers. Let’s take a look at the starter who projects to go possibly in the top two rounds of this year’s MLB amateur draft in July.
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Kevin Abel, RHP, Oregon State
Weight: 195 lbs.
2018: 8-1, 2.88 ERA, 108 Ks in 81.1 IP
2019: 2-0, 3.86 ERA, 25 Ks in 16.1 IP (TJS)
2021: 3-3, 2.83 ERA, 79 Ks in 54 IP
Kevin Abel is a senior for the Beavers. He was drafted out of Madison High School back in 2017 in the 35th round by the San Diego Padres but chose to honor his commitment to Oregon State. He went on to have an excellent freshman season in 2018. However, after just three starts in 2019, Abel needed Tommy John Surgery. He has put himself back on the map this season and could be a steal for a team in the late first or early second round.
Abel has great feel for his offspeed offerings. His changeup is nasty and has plenty of fade to keep left-handed hitters in check. He tosses it at 79-82 mph which plays off his fastball. His curve is also a pretty good hammer. He throws that even slower at 76-80 mph. The right-hander’s arm slot is very over-the-top which produces a solid drop on his curve. His delivery is very simple and compact which allows him to repeat it consistently. Abel can throw the changeup in any count as it is his best pitch and the one he has the most command of. Abel’s knowledge of how to pitch and mix his stuff up is one of his best attributes. He is intelligent and uses the hitter’s aggression against them as proven by only allowing 87 hits in his college career (151.1 IP).
His fastball will not blow anyone away at 89-92 mph. It has decent ride to it and while he plays his offspeed stuff off of it well, he doesn’t have the control that is necessary for a pitcher with lower velocity to succeed. Command has been a problem in his college career, walking 94 batters in 151.1 innings. The high amount of walks could be attributed to Abel nibbling at hitters. He tends to try to get too fine and forces his pitches.
Pro Comparison: Kyle Hendricks
The similarities are there if he can trust his stuff at the next level. Hendricks had impeccable command going back to college so Abel has a lot to work toward to justify this comparison. The San Diego native already has more strikeout potential than the Chicago Cubs righty. If Abel can gain better command over his three offerings and trust his ability to get outs while throwing strikes then the Oregon State ace could be a middle-of-the-rotation arm for a team at the end of the first round or beginning of the second.
Draft Projection: Round 2, Pick 51, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew needs some arms in the pipeline. While they have picks 15 and 33 as well, they will wait on Abel who actually fits the Zach Davies mold but with more swing-and-miss to his game. There is a lot of upside to Abel if he can get his control…well…under control. He has a ton of swing-and-miss in his profile already (212 Ks in 151.1 IP) with his consistent arm slot and easy motion.
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