Cave Ready For A Great Year

TRENTON, NJ - Outfielder Jake Cave continues to improve and between time in the offseason and Spring Training camp with the Yankees this year he has quickly shown the potential to have a break out year in Trenton this season.

He had his best year in 2014 splitting time in high-A Tampa and with the Double-A Thunder, batting.294 between those two teams and chipping in 42 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 132 total games.

He is coming into a Trenton team this season that has top prospects like Greg Bird and Aaron Judge but Thunder hitting coach P.J. Piliterre believes that Cave is a guy that could turn some heads towards him in 2015.

”Jake is a treat to work with as a hitting coach because he’s the ultimate competitor,” Piliterre said. “Jake is not only a key cog to our team in Trenton, but he is pretty important to the whole organization.

"He’s a talented player that has done nothing but improve and perform. He’s going to come in to work and he’s going to give you everything he’s got. If he keeps on doing what he’s doing, people are going to watch.”

As a member of the Thunder last year, he played in 42 games and had a .273 batting average and 18 RBI. But his power didn’t come through until the end of the season where he had three home runs, eleven runs batted in, and a .318 batting average in his last ten games last season.

But even though people tend to focus on stats and offense in baseball, Cave likes to focus on his defense and made it big part of his offseason, and he wants to continue working on it.

“I always wanted to get better defensively,” Cave said. “In baseball, I think you can get better in every aspect of the game. I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing and keep going at it consistently.

"Defensively, if I want to be an elite outfielder, I have to improve on my jumps, on my reads, my awareness, getting ready to go at every pitch. So I’m going to keep working hard on those parts of my game.”

The 22-year old was in Spring Training this year and had impressive numbers in his limited time there. In 15 at-bats, he managed to get six hits and six RBIs while maintaining an OPS of 1.042 for the spring. When asked about his performance, Piliterre thought he did great, and knew he could do it.

“I think he did a great job all across the street in his first Major League Spring camp,” Pitilerre said. “To say I was shocked or surprised as to how he did, I would say no because that is just who he is. You throw him in any situation in the game and he’s going to compete. I think he had a great spring, picked up where he left off and continued rolling.”

Health-wise, Cave says that he feels great overall and that he is stronger and faster. The 2011 sixth round draft pick also said that he gained ten pounds in the offseason, weighing in at about to 205 pounds to his, adding to his solid six feet tall frame, but says he gained the weight the right way.

“I worked pretty hard this season,” Cave said when asked about his fitness level. “I feel like don’t have to do as much on the plate to hit the ball hard or as hard as I want it to be because I feel stronger.”

Cave’s energy and passion for the game has translated to success in his short career in the minors, but that energy sometimes may be misused. Thunder manager Al Pedrique says that Cave used to use up a lot of his energy and get himself tired. Pedrique said that since then, he’s been working hard and maturing as a player.

But at this point in his career, he is far from a complete product. Cave still needs to work on his defense, something that he says has been a focus for him during the offseason. Pedrique likes what he is seeing from the young outfielder.

“He had to learn how to better prepare himself because at times he took too many swings or chase down too many fly balls in practice, so when the game started, he would be tired,” Pedrique said. “That’s one thing we talked to him, little by little, preparing on how to go about his business on a daily basis during practice.”

With all the progress and experience made during the offseason and Spring Training, Cave is excited and feels confident he’ll have a big year on his road to the big leagues.

“Absolutely,” Cave answered. “I’m 100 percent ready this year. I definitely feel stronger, more confident, more excited. I’m ready to go out and have a great year.”

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