At first, B-Mets' Abreu keeps slugging

Michel Abreu watched this week as Alay Soler, his fellow Cuban and – until recently – his Binghamton Mets teammate, realized his major league dream and made it to Shea Stadium, debuting against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Batting an eye-popping .356 through 27 games at Double-A, Abreu can only hope that his time is down the road.

"I felt really happy (for Soler)," Abreu said, through an interpreter. "I wish the best for him. We played together in Cuba and here, and that's our dreams – to get to the big leagues and actually reach that point."

Signed by the Mets as an international free agent in January, Abreu – who is officially listed by Binghamton at 27 years old, but has been reported to be as old as 31 – has flashed a veteran bat to go along with a capable presence at first base.

Abreu started the season with Class-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League, but was quickly promoted after just nine at-bats, stepping in after regular first baseman Brett Harper was sidelined with a right shoulder injury.

Harper led the Mets organization with 36 home runs last season between St. Lucie and Binghamton, but with Abreu in the lineup, the B-Mets seem to have replaced much of the production.

Abreu collected a hit for the eighth straight game Friday at Trenton and has had at least one hit in 13 of his last 14 contests, including slugging two-run homers in back-to-back games on May 21 against Altoona and May 22 against Portland.

"Since I saw Michel in spring training, he's looked like he has an idea," Binghamton manager Juan Samuel said. "His foundation is very good at the plate and he hits the ball to all fields, which is what you need. That makes him stay on the ball longer."

Overall, through 101 at-bats in Double-A, Abreu has five doubles and five home runs, totaling 17 RBI. He said he wasn't surprised by how quickly he responded to the challenges of the Eastern League, and credited regular play at first base as one of the defining factors.

"I've been in the outfield before, but I feel good at first [base] because it's comfortable for hitting," Abreu said. "There's less time in the outfield running around. At first base, you ask more for offense, and in the outfield, you're looking for defense. So that feels good (to be at first base)."

Samuel said the intangibles of Abreu's lengthy resume are apparent, helping to separate him from some of Binghamton's less-polished performers.

"It definitely helps," Samuel said. "I think he's had a lot of baseball under him. Here in the Eastern League, he's having success because of that."

Abreu was part of the Cuban national team that played against the Baltimore Orioles in a pair of exhibitions in 1999 and 2000, and was originally signed professionally by the Boston Red Sox last September.

That relationship, however, was brief – the Red Sox cut ties with Abreu shortly after inking him to a deal that included a $425,000 signing bonus, voiding the deal over residency issues and because they discovered Abreu was older than originally believed.

The Mets took a chance, signing Abreu in January and having him work out with their Double-A and Triple-A clubs during spring training. So far, the move appears to have been a wise one.

"I felt a little uncomfortable in the beginning, with new guys and a different type of baseball," Abreu said. "But now, I feel comfortable.

"It feels good being in Double-A. The next step is going to Triple-A, and after that, it's the big leagues. Hopefully, these things can happen."


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