Here's three more prospects including Alberto Cabrera, who has a great chance making the Cubs bullpen this spring. The Cubs invested in high school arm Trevor Clifton in the 2013 draft and Benjamin Carhart is headed behind the plate.
Alberto Cabrera, P
Age 25 (10/25/1988)
2013 Teams: Tennessee Smokies, Southern League (AA); Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast league (AAA); Chicago Cubs
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking —# 22
How acquired: —Signed as a free agent on July 7, 2005
Cabrera made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2006 (5-6, 2.27 ERA, 71.1 IP) and then came stateside the following season making nine starts for Boise (3-3 5.40 ERA, 38.1 IP). After making 11 starts at Peoria in 2008 as a 19-year-old (4-6 5.71 ERA, 52 IP), Cabrera got his first taste of the bullpen (19 games in relief) in 2009 for Peoria and he responded by going 8-2 with a 4.48 ERA in a career-high 96.1 innings. Cabrera moved back into the starter's role in 2010 as he split the year between Daytona and Tennessee, and at season's end was placed on the Cubs 40-man roster. Cabrera started 2011 in Tennessee but even after allowing 60 hits in 48.2 innings in nine starts (6-2, 5.36 ERA), was promoted to Iowa. He made 17 starts in his first year in AAA but was hit hard allowing 11 homers in 88.2 innings with 1.70 WHIP.
With the new front office in place, Cabrera was used strictly out of the bullpen in 2012 and the move earned him his major league debut. He started the campaign recording five saves for Tennessee (2-1, 2.52 ERA, 35.2 IP, 45 K). His performance at AA earned him his second trip to Iowa, and in 13 games fanned 29 in 19.1 innings. Cabrera made his major league debut on Aug. 1 vs. Pittsburgh, fanning a pair in a scoreless eighth inning. He finished the year 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA throwing 21.2 innings with 27 strikeouts and 18 BB in 25 games.
After 61 games in relief in 2012, Cabrera returned to his starting role in Tennessee, armed with a new change-up. He turned in his best season as a starter going 9-3 with a 3.20 in 18 starts. A Southern League mid-season all-star, he led the league in strikeouts (107) when he was promoted to AAA Iowa on July 18.
Working strictly out of the bullpen in Iowa, Cabrera struggled in his 15 games, allowing 26 hits, including four homers. He was 1-3 with a 7.08 ERA pitching 20.1 innings with a BAA of .321. Cabrera was called up to Chicago in September for his second stint at Wrigley Field. He made seven appearances in the final month, allowing three runs on seven hits and five walks in six innings. Cabrera had career-high in innings (139) and strikeouts (130). He closed out the 2013 campaign pitching for Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter league (7G, 6IP, 9H, 6 ER, 2BB, 4K) pitching between Nov. 23-Dec. 19.
Cabrera's fastball sits in the low 90s, he throws a hard slider at 85-87, and added a change-up to his repertoire in 2013. He's in position to earn a spot in the Cubs bullpen but will have to impress in spring training. Cabrera is out of options so if he doesn't make the team out of spring training, there's a chance another team may claim him off waivers. Cabrera did show improvement in AA with his command but that didn't translate when he was promoted to AAA or the big leagues. He needs to pitch ahead in the count as he has a tendency to get the ball up when behind, and it leaves the park.
Trevor Clifton, P
Age 18 (5/11/1995)
2013 Team : Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League (R)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking —# Not Rated
How acquired: —Drafted in the 12th round in 2013
Prior to Cubs
A member of Team USA 16-U that captured the gold medal at the IBAF World Youth Championship in Mexico in 2011, Clifton had the Cubs attention since his junior year at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tennessee. Kept on a strict innings limit in high school, he went 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA, recording 79 strikeouts in 39.2 innings, and received a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Heading into the draft, Clifton was ranked #100 by scout.com and #148 by Baseball America but fell in the draft over financial demands. The Cubs gave the only high school arm they signed a reported $375,000 bonus, well above the $100,000 slot limit.
The Tennessee native made his pro debut on July 26 tossing a scoreless inning with a pair of walks against the Angels. Clifton appeared in eight games, throwing 10.1 innings (0-0 6.97 ERA) in the Arizona Rookie League. Clifton fanned 15 but allowed 13 hits and walked eight. The Cubs limited the length of his outings as he went two frames his final three appearances with nine strikeouts and only one walk.
If Clifton follows the path of high school arms drafted by the Cubs in 2012, he's likely to stay in Mesa for extended spring training and then head to Boise in June. At 6-foot-4, Clifton has the frame to become a power pitcher and has already been clocked at 97 mph however most reports put his fastball in the low 90s. He also throws a curve and change-up and his ability to become a MLB starter will depend on the development of those two pitches.
Benjamin Carhart, C/IF
Age 23 (1/21/1990)
2013 Team : Daytona Cubs, Florida State League (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking —Not rated
How acquired —35th round pick in 2012 draft
Prior to Cubs
A first-team all-conference and all-county player his senior year at Palm Beach Gardens High School in Florida, Carhart headed to Palm Beach State College for two years and was named the Florida Junior College Player of the Year in 2010 after hitting .473 with 12 homers, 72 RBI, and a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched. He earned first team All-American honors, was named team MVP and earned the National Silver Slugger Award. The Dodgers drafted Carhart in the 19th round that June but he decided to continue his career at Stetson.
As a junior for the Hatters, he was named to the Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference team after playing in 61 games and leading the team with 63 RBI. As a senior, Carhart led the Hatters with a .339 average, 17 doubles and 37 RBI while ranking second on the team with four home runs in 2012. He started all 58 games at third base and earned Second Team All-Atlantic Sun honors.
He signed shortly after the draft and spent his first pro season with Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. Carhart continued to have the same success he enjoyed in college, hitting .353 with 16 multi-hit games and a 12-game hitting streak. He also added a homer, 21 RBI, and had more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) in 35 games.
Carhart jumped from the Rookie League to High A and was third on Daytona's FSL championship team with 112 games played behind Zeke DeVoss (117) and Dustin Geiger (123). Carhart hit .281/.337/.393 the first half of the year, including a 12-game hitting streak, but really struggled the final 50 games of the season finishing with a slash line of .247/.297/.336. He didn't show much power with only three homers but did have 27 doubles and hit .271 with runners in scoring position. Carhart had a two-error game the second week of the season but played a solid third base for Daytona with a .963 fielding percentage, handling 241 chances.
A new position is in store for the 23-year-old as he switches from third base to catcher. Carhart got his baptism behind the plate at fall instructs as he saw action in several games, the first time he's caught since high school. A former pitcher in college, Carhart has the arm and the frame to play the position and it will be interesting to see where the Cubs start his catching career. Carhart's endurance will need to improve for a full season as his numbers dipped the second half of last year, especially with a move to a demanding position like catcher.