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In the Beginning: Genesis Cabrera Debuts for Bowling Green

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The Dominican Republic has produced more than its fair share of outstanding pitchers over the years, and the Rays are hoping that 19-year-old Genesis Cabrera is one of the latest. Interestingly, he was voted as having the 11th best name in the minors this season. Signed as an international free agent on November 1st 2013, he was assigned to the DSL for the 2014 season and pitching in just over 29 innings.

Apparently, that was enough to get him promoted to the Appy league for the 2015 season where he only managed 17 innings in 5 outings. Again, the Rays saw enough in Cabrera, despite very few outings, to promote him to full-season ball in Bowling Green, where he made his first start last night.

Needless to say, I was intrigued to see what it was about Cabrera that the Rays liked enough to promote him so quickly. So, I logged into Milb.TV and watched his outing last night. I'll provide a recap of what I saw after noting his stats thus far.

LHP Genesis Cabrera Statistics, 2014-2015 (Fangraphs)

Season Team W L ERA G GS IP TBF H R ER HR BB WP SO
2014 Rays (R) 2 1 2.45 14 1 29.1 110 20 9 8 0 3 3 26
2015 Rays (R) 0 0 3.18 5 2 17 69 16 6 6 0 4 1 19

Season Team W L G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP
2014 Rays (R) 2 1 14 1 29.1 7.98 0.92 0 0.247 60.90% 2.45 1.93
2015 Rays (R) 0 0 5 2 17 10.06 2.12 0 0.364 72.70% 3.18 2.34

There's only so much you can evaluate from such a small sample size, but there's enough to make some observations.

His best start of 2015 was this one against Pulaski July 18th:

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Genesis Cabrera 5 4 0 0 0 5 0 3.18

Let's note the following:

  • He maintains an extremely low walk rate alongside high K rates. This was true both in the DSL and in the Appy league
  • The WHIP was outstanding in the DSL, where he pitched at 17 years old, and was good in the Appy league. interestingly, both the K rate and BABIP went up in 2015.
It's not much to go on, but that's why I also wanted to watch last night's game.

Cabrera's First Outing of 2016: Notes

At  6'0" 165 lbs, Cabrera's slight build might fill out further as he matures. His delivery is smooth, but he tails quite a bit to the 3B side on some pitches. He showed some good reflexes on grounders through the middle and his downward plane works well when he doesn't leave pitches high.

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA*
Genesis Cabrera 4 5 3 1 2 4 1 2.25

Here are my notes from last night's game:

  • He seemed to get the vast majority of his strike outs with fastballs that were high in the zone, something may prove dangerous to use as he moves up the ranks.
  • He managed to get out of a bases loaded bind in the 3rd inning by striking out the highly touted Eloy Jimenez, the same player who eventually hit a walk off HR to end the game.
  • Cabrera will forever be remembered as the pitcher who handed the highly touted Eddy Julio Martinez the first HR of his career on U.S. soil.
  • He seemed to lose steam on his pitches in the 4th inning.
  • His fastball worked at 92 MPH, and he showed a work-in-progress curveball, but  would do well to add a change up.
  • He had thrown 72 pitches through 4 innings, mostly due to some trouble in the 3rd, two errors which resulted in 2 unearned runs, and some wear and tear continuing from that in the 4th. Of the 72, 43 were strikes which is a good sign.

As you can see from the final score below, errors (and missed opportunities to get outs) were an issue all game long for Bowling Green:

Overall, I liked what I saw from Cabrera and liked the fact that he battled through a tough lineup. There's work to be done to stretch him out and get him to remain lower in the zone, avoiding the high strikes that players will drive over the wall.

What I liked most was his velocity and fairly accurate stuff. And when players made errors, he didn't let it faze him, he just carried on in a professional manner.

What I thought was missing was the use of the breaking stuff and change up, but that's something he's likely going to mix in more often as he progresses. There's a chance, and this is a reach, that the Rays are fast-tracking him because they view him as a reliever want him to use his innings to work on his fastball velocity and command.

Of course, that was only his first start of the season and he could incorporate more off speed stuff as he moves through the season. For a pitcher that not quite 50 IP under his belt before making this start, I'm fairly impressed with this performance overall. He's someone I'll continue to monitor closely. As a hard throwing LHP, he is definitely intriguing.

Side Notes from the game

LHP Jose Alvarado: The RP who took over from Cabrera was Alvarado. For those who don't know him, he was also signed as an international free agent at 16-years-old, when he weighed 180 lbs. He now weighs in at 240 lbs, adding an average of 20 lbs per year. Alvarado has a violent delivery that provides the ability to touch 100 MPH.

CF Zacrey Law hammered a pitch over the fence, a no doubter, for his first HR of the season. Law drove the ball hard all game long, showing great bat speed.

3B Kevin Padlo is still trying to find his groove but wasn't seeing many strikes.

SS Jake Cronenworth seemed very comfortable at SS after spending 2015 playing 2B. Brandon Lowe, however, did not seem comfortable at all at 2B.