Young shortstops are getting a lot of focus these days, but the names generally mentioned are Alcides Escobar and Elvis Andrus. There’s a third speedster who belongs to be included in that group, the Padres’ Everth Cabrera.
Before we get into too much detail, let’s take a look at his line from last season:
377 At Bats
.255 Batting Average (96 Hits)
2 Home Runs
25 Stolen Bases
.342 On Base Percentage
.361 Slugging Percentage
.328 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Prior to 2009, Cabrera never played above Single-A. Having been selected as the third overall pick in the 2008 Rule V Draft (out of the Colorado Rockies system), the Padres had no choice but to keep him on the Major League roster (though nine stolen bases during Spring Training helped make their decision) or offer him back.
He struggled with injuries a bit, having surgery on his hand in April, limiting him to just 377 AB on the season. When he was healthy, he showed the world just how much speed he had, which shouldn’t have been any surprise. In 2008 he stole 73 bases at Single-A, so how fast he is should not be in question.
He had 25 SB last season, placing him in the Top 30. That says a lot, considering the leap he took along with the time he missed. With a year of experience under his belt (and hopefully a full year’s health), there really is no telling how many SBs he could get.
He struggled with his average, posting a .255 mark, but it’s not because of his eye at the plate. He walked 10.9% of the time, so if he continues to mature and learn to simply make contact, his speed will certainly allow him to carry a significantly above average BABIP. It’s not going to happen all at once, but he should take a step forward in 2010.
The real advantage he has over Andrus & Escobar is that he plays for what is a terrible offensive team. They aren’t expected to go very far, so they can afford to show more patience and allow him to develop at the top of the order. He got 234 at bats in the leadoff spot last season, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t see the majority of his at bats in that slot once again.
With Adrian Gonzalez & Kevin Kouzmanoff lined up behind him, he should get an opportunity to score plenty of runs.
With that said, let’s take a look at what I’d project him for in 2010:
.270 (135-500), 3 HR, 40 RBI, 90 R, 47 SB, .328 BABIP, .368 OBP, .378 SLG
As you can see, I’m projecting him to be a high speed, pretty good runs option, while not hurting you in the average department. He’s going to have some highs and some lows, but what he should continue to get is an opportunity, no matter what happens. That’s just as important as anything else for a young player and should continue to allow him to develop into one of the elite stolen base threats in the league.
What do you think of him? Is he going to be able to steal that many bases in 2010? Hit for a better average?
Check out some previous 2010 projections including: