Scouting Report: Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on May 23, 2006
Amidst the Seattle Mariners leap into their most recent successful phase of Latin American scouting, international scouting director Bob Engle and Venezuelan area scout Emilio Carrasquel stumbled upon Asdrubal Jose Cabrera, a slick-fielding, switch-hitting shortstop.
That was back in late 2002 and the teenager impressed the ballclub with his showing in Everett in 2004 as an 18-year-old.
The first thing you notice when watching Cabrera is that he's very good defensively, led by his great hands, more than adequate arm strength with plus accuracy, and top drawer footwork.
He can be too flashy at times, but rarely makes a mistake, and with more experience he'll be a gold glove candidate at shortstop.
Clearly, he can handle the position at the next level.
But there's more to Cabrera, now 20, than meets the stat sheet.
Prior to his stateside debut, Cabrera spent a year with Aguirre in the Venezuelan Summer League and followed his strong showing in the Northwest League (.272/.330, 5 HR, 7 SB, 63 G) with a well-traveled, but successful '05 season.
Cabrera began last season in Class A Wisconsin and quickly proved he was ready for the jump to the California League. At 19, he hit .318/.407 with 19 extra-base hits in 51 games with the Rattlers.
After moving on to Inland Empire where he hit a respectable .284, Cabrera was again promoted.
But this time he'd skip a level and land in the middle of a Triple-A pennant race with the Tacoma Rainiers. He hit just .217 in six regular season games but proved himself in the first round of the playoffs versus Sacramento.
Cabrera had six hits and three walks in the five-game set, including the game-winner in game four.
This was enough evidence for the M's to be convinced of his abilities, and he started the '06 campaign back with Tacoma, surprising some, including myself.
But he was clearly ready for the challenge, and now he's quieting his critics.
Those critics include scouts around the league and a few of the M's own who expresses concern about Cabrera's on-base skills.
He does lack power, typical of many middle infielders, but he's more than capable of working the count and maximizing every at-bat.
He profiles a lot like former Mariners shortstop Carlos Guillen, minus some of the pop.
Strengths: Cabrera is an exceptional fielder with a strong, accurate throwing arm and often displays his uncanny ability to make the improbable throw. He has no weaknesses in the field, but needs more experience with positioning.
Offensively, he's progressing at a high rate, but lacks the power to compete with the new wave of shortstops in baseball, such as Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Wood and Stephen Drew.
But contrary to what almost every scout has reported on him over the past few years, he has plenty of plate skills to be more than an offensive liability. Cabrera consistently works deep into the count, rarely swings at anything but strikes and has a solid, smooth line-drive stroke.
His pitch recognition is far ahead of schedule and he's shown he can control the strike zone. He's not Chris Snelling that department, but he's well on his way to being an above-average bat.
Unlike Yuniesky Betancourt, Cabrera's natural skills make him a candidate for early offensive success in the bigs, at least in OBP. Betancourt is an aggressive hitter that has just one year of pro ball under his belt, but Cabrera has been working on his craft with professional instructors for four years.
He's got the bat speed and discipline to max out in the 8-12 home run range, taking Safeco into consideration. Add that to a 275-285 batting average and a .350 OBP.
Weaknesses: Athletically, Cabrera rates above average and possesses slightly above-average speed, but he won't steal many bases. He runs the bases intelligently and without error or hesitation.
He can lose focus at the plate at times and becomes over-anxious, leading to a few extra strikeouts here and there, but it's nothing alarming.
He's shown more power from the right side of the plate but is more skilled from the left side. This should even out with more experience. His advanced numbers as a right-handed hitter come primarily from his aggressive nature facing lefties.
Tools – Now/Future
Hitting for Average/On-Base Skills: 55/60
Hitting for Power: 40/45
Staying Power: 60-65
Overall Future Potential: 60