Wilyer Abreu, who first came onto the radar of the Red Sox during his amateur days in Venezuela, felt several different emotions when Double-A Corpus Christi Manager Gregorio Petit told him that the Houston Astros traded him to Boston.

“I was very surprised,” Abreu said. “I was happy but very confused and nervous for the transition.”

He gathered all his belongings and flew here the next day.

“I had to buy another suitcase,” Abreu said, smiling.

Boston acquired Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez for catcher Christian Vázquez the day before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

The Red Sox assigned the 23-year-old Valdez, who plays multiple positions, to Triple-A Worcester. They assigned the 23-year-old Abreu to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.


Abreu, a 6-foot, 217-pound left-handed hitter, has bashed 15 homers and 27 doubles while posting a .398 on-base percentage in 101 games (460 plate appearances) at Double-A this season.

In 12 games with the Sea Dogs (before Wednesday night), he was hitting .239 with four RBI.

Red Sox assistant GM Eddie Romero, who Abreu already knew from his amateur days in Venezuela, was one of the first people to call him after he was traded to Boston.

“I was supposed to sign here with the Red Sox in 2016,” he said.

Abreu signed as an 18-year-old with the Astros for $300,000 on July 2, 2017. He was expecting to sign with Boston just after turning 17 in 2016.

But the Red Sox received a ban from signing any amateur international prospects during the 2016-17 period after MLB determined the organization broke signing bonus rules the previous international signing period.


It took six years, but he’s finally a member of the Red Sox.

“I love it,” said Abreu, who moved into a new apartment Sunday. “It’s a new team. A lot of guys who have a good makeup. And I like this city (Portland) because of the weather. I love the weather.”

Growing up in Venezuela, Abreu rooted for the Colorado Rockies because his favorite player was three-time All-Star Carlos González, a left-handed hitting outfielder who posted a .285/.343/.500/.843 line in 1,377 major league games.

“I liked to watch him play,” Abreu said.

Abreu and González are natives of Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Abreu is the first person in his family to play professional baseball. He grew up also playing basketball and soccer. But he said nothing was as special to him as baseball.


His No. 1 passion off the field? Cutting hair.

“In Venezuela right now, I have a barber shop. And I’ve learned with those guys,” he said.

His barber shop, Activo, is in Maracaibo. He said cutting hair is always something that fascinated him and he has learned a lot over the past year from the barbers employed there.

He even cuts his own hair and is available if any teammates need a trim.

“Not here (yet), but with Houston, I cut my teammate’s hair,” he said.

Abreu’s Baseball America scouting reports notes: “After trading contact for power coming out of the 2020 pandemic, Abreu has found a happy medium this season, showing better bat-to-ball skills allowing him to more consistently access his power in game. He’s an extremely patient hitter with a discerning eye at the plate, leading to high walk totals and some strikeouts due to passivity. Overall it’s high level swing decisions with above-average game power. He has enough bat-to-ball skills to avoid the three-true-outcome label, but his average will fluctuate due to his flyball heavy approach.”


Abreu has walked in 19.1% of his plate appearances this season.

He already has 10 walks in 49 plate appearances (20.4% walk percentage) with Portland.

“I just try to not swing at bad pitches,” Abreu said. “Try to do damage. And when I try to do damage, I just get focused on the good pitches and try to let the bad pitches go.”

Abreu posted a .255/.326/.365/.690 line in 59 games (215 plate appearances) in 2019 at the short-season and Low-A levels. He has looked like a different hitter since returning from the COVID shutdown that canceled the 2020 minor league season.

He hit .268 with a .363 on-base percentage and .495 slugging percentage last year, belting 16 homers and 15 doubles in 82 games for High-A Asheville.

“Most important for me was to work out on my body (during 2020),” Abreu said. “I tried to get in good shape because it’s a long season and I don’t want to get tired when the season is almost at the end.”


He described himself as a line-drive, extra-base hitter with some home run power. He focuses more on being on time for pitches rather than mechanics.

“When you’re not on time and you’re late, you try to do too much,” he said.

“I just try to be on time and do my normal swing. Because I know I have some power and I just try to be on time with the ball and hit the ball in the barrel.”

He has struck out in 27.2% of plate appearances this season.

“I know I strike out a lot because I try to do damage,” Abreu said. “When I try to do damage, I miss some balls in the zone.

“When I have men on third with less than two outs, I just try to put the ball in play and get the RBI. Other than that, I just try to do damage.”

He has played all three outfield positions for Portland. Baseball America wrote, “Defensively, he can handle center field and tests highly on the Astros’ internal athleticism measurements. He has an unusual build as he’s a bigger bodied player for centerfield, but he has the ability to hit and provide versatility in the outfield.”

“Right now, I’m trying to work on my throws,” he said. “Don’t make unnecessary throws and try to throw to the right base.”

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