3:35pm: The Red Sox have now made these moves official, recalling Abreu and placing Duran on the injured list. They also reinstated right-hander Tanner Houck from the IL and optioned lefty Chris Murphy.
10:37am: The Red Sox are planning to promote outfield prospect Wilyer Abreu for his Major League debut, as first reported by Augusto Cardenas. Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe hears the same, reporting that Abreu will be called up to replace Jarren Duran, who’s headed to the injured list following this weekend’s toe injury.
Abreu, 24, was one of two prospects acquired in the trade sending catcher Christian Vazquez from Boston to Houston last summer. The Venezuelan-born outfielder has posted impressive numbers in Triple-A Worcester this season, slashing .274/.391/.539 with 22 homers, 11 doubles, a triple and eight stolen bases (in nine tries). Abreu has walked in an immense 16.3% of his plate appearances while striking out at a manageable 20.1% clip.
FanGraphs and MLB.com both currently rank Abreu 17th among Boston farmhands, while Baseball America tabs him 22nd. The 2023 season has seen a pronounced step forward in terms of power production for Abreu, despite garnering only average ratings on his power in most scouting reports. He’s done that while reducing his strikeout rate by six percentage points over last year’s levels, too, which creates some optimism that he could perhaps elevate his status over the generally projected fourth outfielder.
Abreu is regarded as a disciplined hitter at the plate who can be too selective at times. He runs well enough to handle all three outfield spots but posts impressive stolen-base totals more due to his baserunning acumen than standout raw speed. Abreu has spent more time in the corners than in center this year, but he has more than 1200 career innings in center and could certainly step in at the position for Duran.
As for the 26-year-old Duran, he suffered a toe injury when scaling the wall on a Gleyber Torres home run. He was slated to undergo an MRI to evaluate the extent of the injury, and it seems there was enough concern to at least require a 10-day absence.
The injury puts a halt to a breakout season for the former top prospect. Duran has appeared in 102 games for the Sox, slashing .295/.346/.482 with eight homers, 34 doubles, a pair of triples and 24 steals (in 26 tries). He’s dropped his strikeout rate for the third straight year, now sitting at 24.9% — still higher than average but nowhere close to the alarming 30.7% clip he posted in 2021-22. In doing so, he looks to have seized a long-term spot in the Boston outfield; even with some expected regression in his .381 average on balls in play, Duran’s plus speed, average power and penchant for making hard contact should allow him to remain an above-average offensive contributor. The Sox can control him for five more years beyond the current season.