The slight-of-frame southpaw has been with Tampa since signing as 17-year-old in 2013, steadily working his way up through the minors to Double-A Montgomery as a starter. Questions remain about Cabrera’s ability to stick in that role, and he has had mixed results in 2018, ringing up more than a strikeout per inning, but off-setting the K’s by walking over four batters per nine innings. I was able to get a first look at Cabrera’s stuff in a relief look at the Southern League ASG.
Cabrera has a high-effort delivery from a high ¾’s arm slot that he gets to as a result of some pretty major spine tilt. Mechanically, his high-effort delivery is difficult to repeat with any consistency. As a result, command of his 94-to-96 mph fastball waivered,but bringing that kind of heat from the left side with a slight crossfire creates deception that helps the pitch play up. The pitch is on the straighter side, but when he finishes his delivery, he’s able to generate plane to the bottom third of the strike zone. This is where his fastball is a swing-and-miss pitch, and he showed feel to run it away from righties. Even with shaky command, it still projects as an above-average pitch. He combined the heater with a short, at times cutter-like slider that moved off the barrel enough to generate weak contact. It was at its best facing Monte Harrison (CF, Marlins); Harrison was sitting dead-red first pitch and a Cabrera slider, even up in the zone, had just enough bite to cross him up. He only showed a single curveball at 78 mph, and didn’t toss his changeup, although both are used when in the rotation.
Cabrera’s delivery and stuff position him for a future bullpen role. His delivery is too difficult to repeat consistently but the juice on his future-plus fastball gives him some rope out of the pen., particularly when he locates it down, and the slider, while not a bat-misser, gives him an average secondary that will play in middle relief. There’s more than a LOOGY here, as the fastball runs away from righties enough for me to trust him for full-inning work.