Marlins Top 10 Prospects
By Mike Berardino
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 1999. Signed by: Louie Eljaua and Miguel Garcia.
Background: Signed for a Venezuelan-record $1.9 million bonus, Cabrera grew up with a diamond just beyond his backyard, and his instincts show as much. He was called up from the winter parallel league in his homeland at age 18 and has been a key member of the Aragua Tigers the past two winters. Hes the youngest player to appear in the Futures Game in the four years of the event, achieving the distinction in 2001 in Seattle and returning last year in Milwaukee. Cabrera benefited from playing with roommate Adrian Gonzalez at low Class A Kane County in 2001. Gonzalez helped him achieve a comfort level with a foreign language and strange land. Some wondered how Cabrera would fare when Gonzalez jumped ahead to Double-A last year, but Cabrera stood out at high Class A Jupiter.
Strengths: Signed as a shortstop, Cabrera moved to third base last spring and fared well. Hes a below-average runner but is quick on his feet and has drawn comparisons to countryman Andres Galarraga in that regard. He has soft hands and a plus arm thats accurate and ranks as the best among the systems infielders. Cabreras line-drive swing has produced more doubles than homers so far. While some of his teammates were frustrated by hitting in the Florida State League, Cabrera just took his doubles off the wall and stayed positive. He projects to hit for both average and power, with annual totals of 35-40 homers not out of the question down the road. He loves to play, doesnt get too emotional and constantly works to get better.
Weaknesses: While he has a good grasp of the strike zone, Cabrera should accept more walks and lay off breaking balls out of the zone. He isnt much of a threat on the bases, though hes an instinctive baserunner. He was plagued by a lower-back problem in 2001 but had no relapses last season. Having outgrown shortstop, Cabrera could get too big for third base if he continues to add bulk and wind up at first base, which would give the organization a perplexing logjam.
The Future: With Mike Lowell two seasons from free agency, Cabrera is poised to take over at third base by 2005, if not sooner. Hell start the year at Floridas new Double-A Carolina affiliate.
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