Every Red Sox Player Ever: Andy Abad

Andy Abad never had any success in Major League Baseball, but unlike many who toil in the professional minor leagues for many seasons, he did make it to the show, not once, not twice, but three times. The long time minor leaguer was a pretty good hitter who probably never got a fair shake based on his .800-plus OPS minor league career alone.

Abad was actually drafted three times by MLB clubs, not signing the first two times. The third time he was drafted was in the 16th round of the 1993 amateur draft by the Red Sox. Strangely enough, he would eventually made his big league debut in Oakland in 2001, only to resurface with the Red Sox a couple years later, then again in Cincinnati.

Andy Abad’s Early Career

Abad got off to a slow start in Rookie ball, batting only .248 with a measly .317 slugging percentage. However, his plate discipline allowed him to compile a respectable .322 on-base percentage. This led the Red Sox to moving him up to High-A ball in Sarasota for the 1994 season. There he performed much better, with a slash line of .288/.367/.362. While the power wasn’t there, the batting eye continued to develop positively.

Abad would start 1995 in Sarasota before moving up early in the season to Boston’s AA affiliate in Trenton. There his numbers regressed a bit, although the power started to emerge as his rate of extra-base hits raised significantly. Still, the Red Sox started Abad back in Sarasota to begin 1996, when his bat finally emerged. In 58 games, he slashed .287/.402/.401 with just 2 HR but 22 doubles and 1 triple. The on-base percentage was well above average, as he walked 37 times against only 28 strikeouts, while hitting 8 HR and 13 doubles.

Realizing that Abad had nothing left to prove in Single-A, he was moved back to Trenton during the 1996 season’s second half. While he struck out more than he walked at the higher level, his in-game power continued to grow. In 65 games, Abad slashed .273/.376/.423 with 9 HR and 22 doubles. With hitting like that, you’d expect Abad to be close to the major leagues. Unfortunately, keep in mind this was at the beginning of baseball’s steroid era, and as Abad was mostly a first baseman only moonlighting in the corner outfield positions at this point, no one was too excited about him at this point.

Making it to AAA Ball

Despite being not among Boston’s top prospects, the organization was clearly excited about Abad’s bat going into the 1997 season. He returned to Trenton to start the year, where he promptly put up his best numbers yet. He hit 8 HR in just 45 games, slashing .303/.423/.527. These are numbers you like to see from a defensively limited player, and the Red Sox awarded Abad by calling him up to Pawtucket.

In 68 games, Abad didn’t hit quite as well as he had in Trenton. He slashed .273/.376/.423 with 9 HR and just 7 doubles. While this was certainly a step-back, and not quite what you’re looking for from a first baseman at the time, Abad still showed his strong batting eye and ability to hit for good batting average. It was certainly enough for the Red Sox to bring him straight back to Pawtucket for 1998.

Unfortunately for Abad, he would toil away at AAA for the next two seasons while hitting very well. In 1998, he hit .307/.415/.493 with 16 HR and even added 10 SB in 111 games. These are numbers teams would be proud to have today and likely would’ve gotten him a call-up midseason. However, the Red Sox had plenty of strong bats in 1998 and never needed him.

In 1999, he tailed off a bit but not terribly. He played in 102 games, slashing .297/.381/.493 with 15 HR and adding 7 steals. Again, these are really good numbers, but the 1999 Red Sox again didn’t have room for him. After the season, Abad decided to try his luck in Japan, signing on with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in 2000. Interestingly that team no longer exists today, folding into the Orix BlueWave in 2004.

Abad didn’t perform well at all in Japan, unfortunately, hitting a measly .163/.235/.304 in only 32 games with 4 HR. After the season, however, the Oakland Athletics decided his Japanese league performance wasn’t indictive of his true talent. The A’s would be rewarded in 2001 as Abad reemerged as his former self in Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. For the A’s AAA affiliate, Abad batted .301/.379/.474 with 19 HR. Thanks to his performance, the A’s would finally find a spot for him in September.

Andy Abad’s Major League Debut

While Andy Abad did indeed make his Major League debut on September 10, 2001, it was for a solitary at-bat. He pinch hit for Jeremy Giambi and popped out to third base on just the second pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer. Abad did come in to play first base, and he fielded two balls perfectly. Unfortunately, the A’s would let him go after the season, forcing Abad to find another team.

Abad found his way to the Florida Marlins organization, where they put him at their AAA team in Calgary, Alberta. Andy would play just fine for Calgary, hitting .301/.402/.486 with just 11 HR, but still displaying his usual patient sneakily powerful batting profile. Not displaying the same 20 HR potential as in previous years, however, the Marlins never saw fit to give him a call-up.

Andy Abad at Fenway Park

Fortunately for Abad, the Boston Red Sox were looking for corner outfield depth and resigned Abad to a minor league contract before the 2003 season. Once again he toiled for Pawtucket, hitting .304/.372/.462 in 134 games, his most yet in a season. He hit just 13 HR, but did manage to drive in 93 runs, his most ever in a season.

The 2003 Red Sox were loaded with bats, as usual, but this time, the Red Sox finally had a spot to put Abad on the September roster. On September 5, 2003, Abad made his Red Sox MLB debut in a Boston win at Yankee Stadium. He pinch hit for Nomar Garciaparra (of all people) and hit a flyball to center field and was relieved by Damian Jackson at shortstop. The very next day he came in as a defensive replacement for Kevin Millar, fielding just a single throw from second base, and struck out in his only plate appearance.

Abad started a game in Baltimore going 0-for-3 with a strikeout, still searching for his first major league hit. He started several days later in Tampa Bay, again going 0-for-3. The next day, he finally got a base hit out of four at-bats, a single to right field off of Victor Zambrano. Abad would play in just 4 more games, three of them pinch hitting appearances. His only other hit was on September 26 in Tampa Bay. He never got a hit at Fenway Park as a member of the Sox, although he did walk once in a game against Baltimore on September 25.

Had he shown more promise at the plate in his few September chances, Abad may have returned to the Red Sox organization for 2004. In fact, despite an error at first base, in 7 games, Abad was a positive defensively, credited with a range factor that over 135 games would amount to 16 runs saved. Unfortunately for Abad, he’d be let go. Fortunately, it wouldn’t be his last taste of Major League Baseball.

Andy Abad’s Late Career

The Pittsburgh Pirates gave Abad another shot in 2004, but he’d only get into 99 games for their Nashville AAA team. He’d hit OK, slashing .292/.382/.468 but with only 12 HR. After the season, he’d be let go again, catching on with the Cleveland organization. With Cleveland’s Buffalo AAA team, Abad was solid yet again, slashing .293/.361/.508 with 20 HR. Surprisingly, he never got a September callup with Cleveland.

After a short stint in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, Abad caught on with Cincinnati for the 2006 season. Interestingly, 2006 would be Abad’s worst season in a while, slashing just .267/.345/.414. The now 33-year old was clearly showing signs of aging, although he did manage to hit 9 HR in 82 games. However, the Reds did call up Abad in September, and he got into 5 games. Unfortuntaely, it was mostly as a defensive replacement, and in his 5 plate appearances, he walked twice with no hits.

Abad would have one more good AAA season in him, returning to Nashville in 2007, but by this time being the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. While his power was on the downturn, Abad still slashed an excellent .316/.368/.494 batting line with 12 HR. Unfortunately, this was the end of the line in organized MLB ball for Abad. He’d play for the Dominican Winter League and play a bit in the Mexican league but by now his bat was fading fast. He was out of organized ball entirely after the 2008 season.

Still, in a 16 year professional career, Abad compiled a .823 OPS, batting .290/.375/.449. At AAA alone, he hit .297/.379/.475 over 1035 games and 4088 plate appearances. He hit 136 HR and 196 doubles at just AAA over 10 seasons. While he only had 2 MLB hits, Abad at least made it. Could he have made more of an impact in the Major Leagues? It’s certainly possible he was underutilized. If he were playing today, Abad certainly would’ve been given more opportunities. Fielding wise it seems he was a well-above average field baseman and didn’t embarrass himself in left field or right field.

In his post playing career, Abad has worked as a hitting coach in 2008 for the Arizona Diamondbacks system and also served as a roving instructor for the Phillies in 2010. There hasn’t been much news about him since, but he’s continued to serve in the Phillies organization as an outfield coordinator recently as 2022. Congratulations on a long and successful baseball career, Andy!

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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