M's 2006 Top 20 Prospects: No. 7

Moving on with the top 20, No. 7 is a slick-fielding infielder with an impressive resume.

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No. 7 – Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
DOB: 11.13.85
Ht/Wt: 6-0/185
Bats/Throws: S/R
Acquired: Signed as non-drafted free agent in 2002
Signed By: Mariners' scout Emilio Carrasquel

2005: Cabrera began his season in the cold climate of the Midwest League and by the time the 2005 campaign concluded he was the starting shortstop for a playoff club – in the Pacific Coast League.

Then 19, Cabrera skipped Double-A San Antonio after two impressive stops in A ball where he combined to hit .300 with 41 extra-base hits, and provided Tacoma with an adequate option at shortstop as they clinched their division title and went to the league championship series.

Strengths: Cabrera is an above average athlete with slightly above average speed, but lacks the physical tools to reach base at a high rate or rack up extra-base hits. He has great hands and footwork and can play either middle infield spot at a gold glove level. He takes pride in his defense and was named the top second baseman in the Midwest League, though he was probably the circuit's best shortstop, too. Cabrera makes good contact, can bunt and is a capable switch hitter.

Weaknesses: To this point in his career, Cabrera has failed to show the ability to hit for the power that would make him a premium prospect. He can reach the gaps but his bat speed is about average and he can be overanxious at times.

In all fairness, however, Cabrera has yet to play in a league where he is facing competition of his own age and experience.

Now 20, the 6-foot, 185-pounder is still maturing physically and could add a bit more pop in the late stages of his development.
2005 Wisconsin A 192 12 4 30 2 30 32 .318 .407 .474
2005 Inland A+ 225 15 1 26 3 15 47 .284 .325 .418
2005 Tacoma AAA 23 0 0 3 0 1 4 .217 .250 .304

Tools: Scouting Profile

Hitting for Average: 45
Cabrera isn't equipped to hit in the leadoff spot where his lack of patience and impact speed would be exposed. He can, however, serve in a complimentary role where his line drives and contact hitting are more than enough to warrant his spot in the lineup.

If Cabrera is to hit more than .270 at the big-league level he must improve his plate discipline and strike zone judgment against the better pitchers in AA and AAA. Breaking balls give him fits and without significant progress in that area, Cabrera may end up as a nine-hole hitter or a reserve. He's a better hitter from the left side of the plate with much better bat control.

Hitting for Power: 35
Hitting the ball 400 feet isn't Cabrera's game but he'll put a charge into one on occasion. He has more power from the right side of the plate but it's unlikely that he breaks double figures in long balls in the show.

"Cabbie has been one of my favorites to watch over the past two year," said a scout from a rival club. "He's a fun kid to follow and I like his stroke. I think as he gets stronger he'll be able to hit a few more home runs, too."

Glove: 70+
Cabrera is sensational in the field, dazzling crowds with submarine throws on ground balls in the hole at short and drawing ooohs and aaahs with great hands and nifty footwork around the second base bag. He's a future gold glove candidate at either spot up the middle and can make every throw.

He's likely to end up at second base where he could challenge Jose Lopez for the starting gig as early as mid-2007. With plus range at both spots, Cabrera provides the Mariners with infield options in the near future.

"I like him better than Betancourt," said the rival scout "I just think he has as much or more to offer offensively, in the end. But he's a few years away with the stick. He's already right there with his defense. He's as good as I've seen on either coast in the field."

Arm: 55+
Cabrera has adequate arm strength to play shortstop, and more than enough to play second base His biggest talent aside from his gobble factor is his ability to make throws that the almost no other shortstops can make, and that the average infielder wouldn't even dream of attempting.

Whether it's a sidearm laser on a slow roller or a Tony Fernandez style flip from the third base side of the six-hole, Cabrera makes the accurate throw with enough strength to get consistent outs at the next level.

"Did you see that throw he made against Sacramento? Wow," said an American League Farm Director. "I came to see some pitching but that was an amazing display of range, and that throw was incredible. A 19-year-old shouldn't be doing that up here. Nice looking player."

Speed: 50
Cabrera isn't a speed burner, nor is he a plus base stealer. His 50 grade here doesn't match his raw speed, but his lack of stolen base ability hurts and his overall usage of his footspeed is below average. With more experience he'll likely grade out in the 55 range.

Future: Cabrera's defense alone may get him a major-league starting role, and possibly in Seattle. He will have to polish up his offensive approach and become more consistent with the bat, but his performances the past two years, including an admirable showing in AAA as a teenager.

Handling pressure situations doesn't appear to affect Cabrera, an attribute that could serve him well over the next 18 months as he seeks to unseat Jose Lopez. He's more than likely a bottom-of-the-order bat but his exceptional glove and strong overall instincts, he has a solid chance at being an everyday player.

2006 Projection: .275/.325/.415, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 6 SB

MLB ETA: 2007

MLB COMP: Carlos Guillen (DET), Cesar Izturis (LAD)
InsideThePark.com's Top 20 Prospects are based on the player's long-term value to the Seattle Mariners organization.

All players that have not exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched at the big-league level are eligible. Service time is not considered.

The Scouting Scale grades are based on a combination of the payers' current and potential future skills.

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