* Kenny Williams, former Blue Jays international scout Marco Paddy and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf found the American League rookie of the year for 2014 and maybe the best player from Cuba when they signed slugger Jose Abreu this winter. Abreu, shown here with Adam Dunn after a home run. Abreu leads the AL in home runs, RBIs, slugging and OPS in 104 games. ..... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in College …. MLB Scouting Bureau camps 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
SEATTLE -- It is so wrong to generalize about a player based on where he’s from.
Take all Cuban players making an impact around the majors for example.
Yasiel Puig tosses his bat on balls that reach the warning track.
Reliever Aroldis Chapman smiles into the Chicago Cubs dugout after retiring the side.
Yoenis Cespedes will show Fenway Park fans flare, as he did with the Oakland A’s.
Yunel Escobar wore eye black.
And then there is Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox.
“He gets it,” said teammate Adam Dunn before Sunday’s finale of the Seattle Mariners-White Sox series. “He has no flash. He’s quiet.”
All is quiet until he hits the ball.
Abreu hit a three-run, line drive homer in Oakland at the O.Co Coliseum off the facing of the upper deck turning a 2-1 eight-inning deficit into a 4-2 Sox win facing reliever Luke Gregorson.
One of Farmer’s California friends asked how good Abreu was, Farmer answered “real good,” and his pal said “yeah, but aren’t places moving in fences?”
Farmer replied in Farmer fashion: “they’re not moving the cement.”
The men responsible for Abreu slugging on the south side are former Blue Jays: former Toronto outfielder Kenny Williams, now executive vice-president, who guided the White Sox to the 2005 World Series and international scout Marco Paddy.
Abreu has a .304 average after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Seattle and leads the American League in home runs (31), RBIs (86), slugging (.613) and OPS (.976) in 104 games.
And he has missed 15 games.
Abreu the quiet giant with the noisy bat awaits Toronto pitching next weekend at US Cellular Field.
In a pitching dominated era, the Sox managed to find pop.
Williams made the scouting recommendation to general manager Rick Hahn and Reinsdorf.
Paddy worked for the Blue Jays until November of 2011 and in 2013 Abreu defected.
“First time I saw Abreu was five years ago in Holland he was 22, I was still with Toronto,” said Paddy from Orlando. As a Jays scout he saw Abreu in Panama at the World Cup qualifier and Puerto Rico at the World Cup.
Abreu defected to the Dominican Republic and the competition began.
“We were able to sign Jose Abreu because we had an owner who believed in what we were doing, Jerry Reinsdorf is the all-star in all of this,” said Paddy. “The price got higher, but that didn’t stop Jerry.”
Reinsdorf and Williams gave Abreu a six-year, $68 million US contract, the largest in White Sox history.
Abreu had been working out at the Texas Rangers complex, but crunch time was a two-day open workout at the New York Yankees complex. There he had batting practice, played in games and suitors could talk to Abreu.
“Brian Sabean and Felipe Alou were there from the San Francisco Giants, Kenny Williams was there, Chuck LaMarr was there from the Jays -- Chuck hired me with the Atlanta Braves -- all 30 teams were there,” Paddy said. “We didn’t watch him together, but Kenny just loved him as a hitter.”
So did the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and the Rangers. No one liked him $68 million worth like the Sox did.
His 31 homers are the most by a rookie since Ryan Braun had 34 and Chris Young had 32 in 2007. He has the second highest total since Ron Kittle (35) in 1983 and to become the third Sox AL home run champ along with Bill Melton and Dick Allen, who won it twice.
“A lot of guys hit home runs,” said Dunn, who has 457 notches in his home run belt, “what’s amazing to me is how he makes adjustments. On one pitch he can look so bad -- like he’s never seen a pitch before. Could be a slider, curve whatever. Next time up the guy throws the same pitch and he hits a double or homer.”
The top-ranking Sox officials form a mutual admiration society.
Paddy had praise for Reinsdorf and Williams.
Williams had praise for Reinsdorf and Paddy.
“Without Marco Paddy giving the thumbs up on the make up of the player and then Jerry trusting my judgement enough to go all out, it doesn’t happen,” said Williams in a text. “Hopefully stories written on (Abreu) reflect how important they are than just my talent judgement.”
The best player from Cuba in the game today?
“Each one brings a different flavour,” said Paddy. “Chapman as a closer at 100 MPH is something you don’t see, Cespedes has great athletic ability, Abreu is a terrific hitter, Puig can do it all, Alexis Ramirez is a great shortstop for us, I know that the Marlins are happy with Adeiny Hechavarria playing great defence and hitting .280 (.277).
“I know they’re growing a lot of them over there ... and more are coming.”