The Cardinals are now all in with their trade for Paul Goldschmidt yesterday. What the Cardinals are lacking is a solid second baseman or veteran outfielder who gets on base a lot and can run. Cue the Whit Merrifield rumors. Whit actually makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals although the Royals aren’t seriously considering dealing him. Even so, I’m going to take a look at another (Trade Target: Connor Jones) of the Cardinals players.
I saw Genesis Cabrera throw this summer in Tennessee. I immediately began messaging our RFR chat about how good this kid was during his warm up in the pen. He struck out the first hitter he faced and I was all in on his 96 mph fastball. Then he gave up back-to-back homers to LF. Both were up and crushed. Then he settled in and finished the inning with a strikeout. He took the loss but didn’t give anything else up in the next 5.0 innings he pitched. His stuff made an impression in my mind and I started looking through possible Royals-Rays deals for last years deadline that night.
Now I can actually write him up. Even if I’m stretching our desire to acquire him just a little.
Cabrera would immediately be in the conversation with the Royals top starting pitching prospects even though he didn’t have immediate success when he transitioned to the Texas League. I promise you the stuff is better than the numbers. Where Cabrera gets into trouble is when he flattens out his stuff. That happens because he leaks from his leg lift to the point he drives to the plate. This can be a fairly easy fix. When he stays back he can drive the ball downhill and has explosive life on his pitches. The problem is he hasn’t fixed it yet.
Cabrera works 93-95 and can get up to 98. When I watched him last year he was working 94-96. He throws a slider that has more of a cutter action but it has short, quick movement. It’s been described as a plus pitch by some scouts. The change up has been described the same way. The change ups I saw had RHHs off balance and hitting a lot of balls in the air for weak contact.
The numbers say he isn’t as good as the eye test. Cabrera threw 140.1 innings between three teams last year mostly for Montgomery. He had 148 Ks, 114 H, and 71 BB. This comes out to 9.51 K/9, 7.32 H/9, and 4.56 BB/9. At Montgomery, Cabrera struck out 26.2% of the batters he faced. His WHIP was 1.32 because the walk rate is high. The walk rate will be the problem he has to overcome. I think that number goes down as he matures because he will learn how to stay back as he raises that leg. Once he learns to do that, his stuff will get better and his command will improve significantly. Cabrera’s FIP was right around 4.00 for his AA stint with the Biscuits.
I did notice that his walk rate spiked last year. His previous career high was 3.7 as a 19-year-old in A ball. He is a high effort pitcher and I think he has added some velocity over the last two years. Because of this, I think he may be overthrowing a lot. He is definitely producing big arm speed. Sometimes, when pitchers see new numbers on the velocity chart, they try to find even more new numbers. Throwing to the gun is not usually a good idea when it comes to long term success. When Cabrera is done trying to add new numbers to his velo charts, he’ll settle in and be much better with his control.
In the meantime, watch the video that Baseball Census put together for you and think about him in a Storm Chasers uniform for next year.
Photo credit to Brian McLeod on MILB.com.