The Fifth Tool: Melky Adding the Final Tool

I guess Melky Cabrera just got sick of being called a four tool player. Or maybe, it is just that he just got even better than he is now. Here is a guy that was constantly praised for just about everything he did but some people could still have reasonable doubt about his power hitting abilities. You can forget those doubts now. Melky has recently shown that he can drive the ball out of the park as well as the next guy. So, does that now make him a five tool player? It sure does.

So, what has changed over the past few weeks for Melky Cabrera? Up until these few weeks ago, he had not one home run all season long. Now, all of a sudden, Cabrera has six long balls in the blink of an eye. Let's not forget though, what a good all around player Cabrera is even without the use of the big fly. But, that has still been the one chink in his prospect armor. Well, it seems to be a flaw no more as Melky has the ball flying out of the park right before our eyes.

 

Melky Cabrera started this season off in low A ball, Battle Creek and it was there that he went from a good to excellent Yankee prospect. He could hit for contact, throw, field and run. But, as a critic would ask, "could he hit a ball out of the ballpark"? Actually, there wasn't much more for the 19 year old Cabrera to accomplish at this point. He hit over .300 in his time in Battle Creek. Then, he proceeded to do the same since joining the Tampa Yankees squad. Not to mention, the man has played a tremendous centerfield wherever he has played. That skill has never left him. Some scouts even consider him to be the top defensive outfielder in the entire farm system. Cabrera has not quite mastered the art of base stealing as of yet but that is not to say that he is not intelligent on the base paths. For a young player, he possesses that rare instinct that allows him to elevate his game just a little more.

 

The world that is the Yankee Farm System came to know Melky when he broke in last season in Staten Island. But, Staten Island was not a place where good hitters seemed to thrive. Obviously, someone forgot to tell Melky Cabrera about that. He was perhaps the most solid and consistent player on the team in 2003. Some of the press following the team even portrayed him as the team MVP. In that season, Cabrera batted a solid .283 in a pitcher's league while popping two home runs. Another impressive thing to note is that in 279 at bats, he struck out only 36 times.

 

Cabrera then began this season in low A Battle Creek. However, that was yet another league that could not contain him. He continued to play a flawless center field and hit the ball all over the ballpark. Was he hitting the ball out of the park? No, but he was doing just about everything else he could to compensate for that. Melky batted a lofty .333 in Battle Creek while also stealing 7 bases. Still, now power numbers though. Then came a promotion to High A ball in late May. Melky got right to work and continued to hit over .300. The 19 year old continued to be his consistent self until something happened on a warm June 20th evening in Tampa, Florida. Melky Cabrera hit his first home run of the season. Harmless at the time, yet a bit of a mini milestone. It was more or less forgotten about since his next home run would not come until nearly a month later. It came on July 14th in St. Lucie. However, that would start the ball rolling for his home run tear that he is now riding into August. Then, it suddenly clicked. There would a home run here and a home run there but that would change. On July 31st, Melky blasted his third home run of the year. And, in the one week since then, he has bolstered his home run total to 6 for the season. Where did this power surge come from? He is playing in a pitcher's league (Florida State League) and he has never shown a knack for power in the past. So, maybe it is just that development of power that scouts have been predicting. Little did any of them know that it would come this quickly and this abruptly though.

 

Even before his power started coming along as it has, Melky Cabrera certainly mad some strong impressions on his teammates and others as well.

 

Perspectives:

 

Teammate, Omir Santos: "Melky is going to move up quick. He can run, they can hit. He plays the game right. The main thing is that he can hit."

 

Battle Creek Yankees Broadcaster, Jeff Hem: "Melky Cabrera was certainly at a level much too high for the Midwest League. He's done quite well in Tampa. He's a very talented outfielder who hits for a high average. If his power numbers continue to develop, then he'll continue to rise through the organization."

 

Teammate, Tyler Clippard: "All around, the best player (teammate) at this point in time, I'd probably have to go with Melky Cabrera – he's just so talented."

 

The question is, who hasn't Melky Cabrera impressed this season? Now, there is nothing for anyone to call a major flaw in Melky. I guess you could say he is the complete package. There is almost no doubt that Melky will be in AA Trenton and if he performs there, he could quickly be on his way to AAA Columbus. It will be an interesting case to follow. Is Melky on the fast track to the majors? Well, if he continues to put balls over the wall along with his other arsenal if tools, there is no reason why he shouldn't.


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