M's 2005 Top 50 Prospects: No. 8

Which of the three shortstops in the top 10 ranks at No. 8? Become a subscriber and get the scoop on the M's eighth best prospect, as well as the remainder of the Top 50 prospects yet to come.

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InsideThePark Prospect No. 8
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Opening Day Age: 19
Height/Weight: 6-0/175
Bats/Throws: B/R
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2002























Cabrera is as polished a player as the M's have in the system, and considering he was 18 for the duration of the 2004 season, played well above expectation for a first-year pro. The Venezuelan is physically matured, allowing him to concentrate on his daily baseball skills rather than his lack of physical ability.

"He has it all defensively," said an American League scout. "At any infield position, he handles everything hit his way. It's a rare thing to see at such a young age. Cabrera is a natural shortstop with good hands and range and is a slasher who will steal you some bases."

The switch-hitting Cabrera has a thick lower half and may ultimately grow out of the shortstop position, limiting his value if he slides over to second base. Without plus speed, Cabrera is without the fifth tool that would vault him into the top few middle-infield prospects in baseball.

Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Hitting for Average: 60
Cabrera's switch-hitting ability is just another positive note on the teenager's short-but-sweet resume in pro ball. With a solid eye at the plate and a short, quick, line-drive stroke that uses all fields to collect hits, Cabrera is a .300 hitter waiting to happen.

"He makes good contact," the scout said. "He hardly ever strikes out and almost never walks away from an at-bat without making the pitcher work for his strikes. He is a little bit better from the left side right now but may have better power from the right."

Hitting for Power: 55
Cabrera has projectable major league power, favoring the right side. The more at-bats he gets, the more he will learn to attack mistake pitches and punish a pitcher for leaving a pitch up in the zone.

Those who doubt Cabrera's power probably missed the game in which he hit a towering shot into the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium, some 430 feet into the summer night. Not bad for an 18-year-old, eh?

"I've seen him hit four or five straight out during BP," added the scout. "With continued adjustments as he progresses, he could have (Robby) Alomar type power potential."

Speed: 55
Not indicative of most middle infielders, Cabrera doesn't possess the fleetest of feet and isn't going to win many games with his legs. He is, however, a savvy baserunner and challenges the defense to make tough throws as he takes the extra base.

Glove: 70
With solid range, great footwork, great instincts and the best hands in the entire organization, it's easy to see why so many rave about Cabrera's defensive abilities. Capable of playing second and third base as well as shortstop, the future gold-glover will have many options as he moves through the system.

"Not many 18-year-olds have the polished glove skills that Asdrubal has. Not in my three decades in baseball, anyways," said the long-time AL scout. "Most say that prospects make the big leagues with their bat but Cabrera's glove is already good enough to play the majors."

Arm: 65
Cabrera makes all the throws from all three positions and has no issues adjusting from game to game as he moves around the diamond. His ability to charge slow rollers as a third baseman and shortstop may be the most impressive single plays he makes, though at times he is a highlight reel all by himself.

Cabrera is, without a doubt, the most intriguing of the organization's shortstop prospects, due to his polished defensive abilities and advanced capacity for learning the game. Cabrera could start the season in either Wisconsin or with the Inland Empire 66ers. Wisconsin is the natural step, where he'd take the field with his double play partner in crime, InsideThePark Prospect No. 29, Oswaldo Navarro. The two make up the best defensive middle infield duo the system has seen in several years.

MLB Clone: Carlos Guillen, Alex Gonzalez

MLB ETA: 2007

Jason A. Churchill can be reached via e-mail at JasonAChurchill@InsidethePark.com

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