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updated: 1/17/2014 7:15 PM

What do Sox have in Abreu? Time will tell

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  • Former Cuban star Jose Abreu has already impressed White Sox officials, including Kenny Williams and new hitting coach Todd Steverson. But as Scot Gregor points out, the proof will come in April when Abreu faces tough major-league pitchers such as Justin Verlander of the Tigers.

      Former Cuban star Jose Abreu has already impressed White Sox officials, including Kenny Williams and new hitting coach Todd Steverson. But as Scot Gregor points out, the proof will come in April when Abreu faces tough major-league pitchers such as Justin Verlander of the Tigers.
    Associated Press

 
 

There is still over a month to go before White Sox hitters report to spring training in Glendale, Ariz.

And Jose Abreu is still the shiny new car that looks great in the driveway.

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Only time will tell if the Sox made the right call on signing the former Cuban star to a six-year, $68 million contract.

White Sox vice president Kenny Williams personally scouted Abreu in two showcase games (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) held in the Dominican Republic and raved about the 6-foot-3, 255-pound first baseman.

"His lower half and his hands worked as well as I've seen a right-handed hitter's hands work down through the ball and the ball explodes off his bat, but in a line-drive manner," Williams said. "When he hits the tape-measure shots, it's almost as though he missed hitting a line drive and now he's got backspin on the ball."

Earlier this week, new White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson held a three-day minicamp at Camelback Ranch in Glendale and he got his first live look at Abreu.

Like Williams, Steverson came away impressed.

"Just talking with some friends of mine around the game that are scouts, that have seen him during his workouts in the Dominican (Republic), I already had a pre-notion of what they saw," Steverson said. "I trust a lot of those guys so I had an idea of what it looked like. Actually, it looked better than what I thought was going to come out. He's a very serious hitter.

"He has a plan, he has an idea of how he wants to go about everything he does. He's pretty meticulous and he's a strong man. It doesn't like he's just going to flat whip the bat around like Gary Sheffield's bat speed, something like that. But he's on plane and when he barrels up a baseball, it takes off."

We'll have to wait and see how Abreu fares in April against a tough major-league starting pitcher like Justin Verlander of the Tigers. Let's withhold judgment until he squares off against Justin Masterson in May and James Shields in June.

Baseball America is already projecting Abreu to bat .250 with 20 home runs and 63 RBI this season, which are so-so numbers. But who really knows?

Until Abreu puts on some big-league mileage, it's all just speculation.

For what it's worth, Steverson joined the Sox from the Athletics' organization, where he got to watch Yoenis Cespedes go from Cuba to the majors and bat .265 with 49 home runs and 162 RBI in his first two seasons with Oakland.

"(Abreu) has been playing in some high quality baseball throughout his whole life," Steverson said. "I saw Cespedes come out and he was able to make his adjustment to the game. I know they're all from the same creed down there. They're very smart hitters. It's been ingrained in them their whole life and they go about it the right way. They're very hard workers and he's one of them."

Beckham, De Aza sign one-year deals

The White Sox signed second baseman Gordon Beckham and outfielder Alejandro De Aza to one-year contracts Friday, avoiding salary arbitration with both players.

Beckham, who batted .267 with 5 home runs and 24 RBI in 103 games last season, agreed to a $4.175 million contract. De Aza, who batted .264 with 17 homers and 62 RBI, agreed to a $4.25 million deal.

•Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter @scotgregor.

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