Acquired: Traded by Pittsburgh in exchange for Andrew Oliver (LHP), 2012
Ranking History: N/A
Acquired by the Tigers in exchange for enigmatic left-hander Andrew Oliver, Cabrera has gotten off to a roaring start with Double-A Erie.
After spending two seasons in rookie ball as a teenager, Cabrera made his full-season debut with Low-A West Virginia in 2010, posting a solid .269/.312/.342 line in 90 games. He followed that up with a breakout 2011 season that saw him hit .343 in the Florida State League with 25 doubles.
The Pirates moved Cabrera to Double-A for the 2012 season and Cabrera hit .276/.342/.367 in 112 games for Altoona before a one game cameo with Triple-A Indianapolis at the end of the season.
Built a bit like a bowling ball, Cabrera is short and stocky with a thick lower half. He isn't particularly athletic and he will have to focus on his conditioning to keep his body in check over the long term.
Despite his stocky build, Cabrera moves pretty well behind the plate. He gets out of his crouch well and can move from side to side. Though he has surprising agility, Cabrera lacks the instincts for blocking balls in the dirt. He has made considerable strides as a receiver but still grades out in the fringe-average range. Cabrera has an average arm but lacks the quick release and accuracy to consistently gun down runners. Overall, he is a fringy defender that has likely maxed out behind the dish.
Cabrera's best attribute is his ability to make contact. He has an innate feel for getting the bat to the ball and he uses the whole field exceptionally well from both sides of the plate. At times, Cabrera's feel for contact can work against him. He often sacrifices working counts and finding pitches to drive in order to make contact, frequently resulting in weak contact to the opposite field. On top of his propensity for weak contact, Cabrera lacks the raw strength to drive the ball and his swing plane is not conducive to more than modest gap power.
Cabrera's offensive ceiling is limited by his contact-heavy approach and lack of power. He projects as a potential .270-.280 hitter without many walks or strikeouts and maybe 15-20 doubles a year. As expected with thickly built catchers, Cabrera is a well below-average runner and speed is not a part of his game.
With modest offensive potential it would be easy to project Cabrera as a potential big-league backup catcher. Unfortunately, given his fringy defense and lack of projection, Cabrera will be hard pressed to get a shot at a backup job where teams traditionally look for defense first and any offense is gravy. As a result, Cabrera profiles best as a very good organizational catcher that can help bolster a Double-A or Triple-A lineup from a premium position.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
Cabrera has not had any major injuries in his professional career.
Cabrera has little left to prove in Double-A and he could receive considerable time in Triple-A before the end of the 2013 season. He is a bat-first catcher with the ability to hit for average but not much else. If his defense suddenly takes another step forward, he could squeeze into an up-and-down role with the Tigers or another club, but more likely, he sticks it out as a solid minor league catcher.
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