Andrew Abbott struck out more batters than any other ACC reliever in 2020. He fanned 28 opponents in his 13 1/3 innings pitched. His stellar performance led D1Baseball.com to rank Abbott as the seventh-best reliever in college basketball for the shortened 2020 season.
With good fastball velocity, a solid left-handed delivery and consistent collegiate production, Abbott enters the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft as a top prospect.
Now he’ll see if his numbers are good enough to hear his name during an atypical MLB Draft.
With just five rounds in this year’s draft, that means any others beyond that who still have professional aspirations will be signed by teams for just $20,000, allowing teams to save money in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott, a rising senior who played in high school at Halifax County, is leaving his options open ahead of the virtual draft that begins on June 10.
“I’m fortunate enough to be mentioned in the five rounds that are in this draft, so if that happens, then I’ll be ready for pro ball because that’s been the dream ever since I started playing T-ball was just get drafted and go to the pros and eventually work to the big leagues if you can,” Abbott said. “But I’ve always thought that, well if that doesn’t work out, Coach [O’Connor] and them at UVa are gonna open their arms and welcome me back like a family member.”
If Abbott, who graduated from UVa this May, is taken in the shortened draft, he’ll likely begin his professional career. If he isn’t, he can always return to UVa for another season and pursue a master’s degree while working on his game and improving his draft stock for the 2021 draft.
In Abbott’s words, it’s a “win-win situation.”
Given his production at Virginia, especially in 2020, Abbott stands a chance of being drafted. He struck out 28 of the 60 batters he faced while maintaining a 1.35 ERA across nine appearances. He was dominant out of the bullpen and held opponents to a .180 batting average.
For the time being, it’s a waiting game for the talented lefty. He knows he can’t control whether or not his name is called in the draft.
“At the end of the day, you can’t say, ‘Hey, I want to be drafted in five rounds’ and get drafted in five rounds,” Abbott said. “They’ll take you because they trust you and that you can do your work and help their team win.”
A few MLB teams have had conversations with Abbott over the past few weeks. Many call just to check in on the pitcher to see how he’s holding up.
About four or five teams, however, have had more serious conversations with Abbott. Those teams wanted Abbott to critique his game and discuss both his strengths and weaknesses.
For Abbott, that’s all just part of the process. He knows he can only control how he responds during those calls and what he does on the field. When it comes to draft day, it’s out of his hands.
As he waits for the draft, Abbott uses his high school weight room to stay in shape. He lifts three days a week and uses a net in his backyard in Republican Grove to throw on the other three or four days. The throwing routines aren’t high stress, but the workouts help keep Abbott’s arm loose during a spring without baseball.
Additional free time is spent on the golf course fixing his “lefty slice” and playing with a new puppy his mom recently brought home.
The MLB Draft is less than a month away, but Abbott isn’t too stressed about the shortened draft or the canceled collegiate season. He’s taking the unprecedented situation in stride.
“I think it’s just good that we recognize that we’re trying to get healthy as a country and then we can take a dive into sports,” Abbott said.
“In the meantime, you just got to stay positive and hope it goes away soon.”