Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fernando Cabrera Report

Fernando Cabrera, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 317th Overall (10th Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Bayamon, PR
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'4", 225 lbs

Cabrera's been absolutely lights-out for Buffalo this season. He's probably been just about as good as any reliever you'll find. He has an ERA under 1, a Brad Lidge-like K rate. He's not walking anybody. And he's even listed about 30 pounds heavier than he was last season. Let's put it this way, he's shaved off a quarter of a run on his ERA in 38 innings while going over the 400 career inning mark. How's that for effective?

Cabrera has a closer's stuff. He gets up into the mid 90's with his fastball, carries a great splitter (can we go back to calling it a forkball?), and a developing changeup and slider. I haven't been able to ascertain whether part of this improvement is due to refinement of one of his secondary pitches, improved velocity on the heater, or just better command and control over his fastball/forkball combo.

2005 Buffalo: 0.95 ERA, 53 K, 7 BB, 26 H, 2 HR, 38 IP
2004 Buffalo: 3.84 ERA, 92 K, 43 BB, 57 H, 9 HR, 75 IP
mL Career: 3.52 ERA, 435 K, 159 BB, 358 H, 31 HR, 412 IP

Some caveats apply. 38 innings isn't conclusive proof of anything. And he is repeating the level. On the other hand, this just looks like one of those situations where everything seems to come together, the control improves, the strikeouts jump, and all of a sudden the guy turns into a dominant closer. He's had good scouting reports for years, boasting velocity and a closer's approach. The biggest thing holding him back was the command.

Bob Wickman is likely to be traded this season and when he does, Cabrera will get a chance to first fill the role of setup man and possibly side over to closer if he does well there. He should be considered along with Ryan Wagner, Mike Gonzalez, Chad Orvella, and Jeff Farnsworth as closers in waiting. I actually like his chances of success a little more than that of Wagner and Gonzalez.

ETA: Mid-Season
4 Stars

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