Oswaldo Cabrera had zero hype coming into the 2021 season. He slashed a measly .260/.310/.378 in 120 games in High-A Tampa, and while he did earn a promotion to Double-A with the Somerset Patriots, it didn’t seem he’d do much with that opportunity.
Revisiting the situation in early June, it seemed that it would remain the case that Cabrera was just a no-name prospect. He had slashed .216/.289/.375, which gave him an 81 wRC+. Cabrera was 19% worse than the league average hitter. but he’d quickly become one of the best.
As if a light bulb went on in his head, he exploded for a 129 wRC+ and 14 extra base hits in his next 19 games in June. He only hit 3 HRs in that stretch, but he’d start flexing that HR power soon enough. From July until his call up to Scranton, he uncorked 18 HRs and posted a 121 wRC+. Those monster numbers also included a .513 SLG%, making him one of the most ferocious sluggers in the minors that season. Despite this great finish, he still found himself outside of top 100 prospect lists, but in Triple-A Scranton, he’s got something to prove to the baseball world.
Cabrera launched a whopping five home runs in just 9 games at AAA last season, meaning from June onwards his 2021 looked like this:
That was all just in 379 PAs, meaning over 600 PAs he would’ve hit 41 HRs and collected an insane 87 extra base hits. To put it simply, Cabrera mashes the baseball, and while his Raw Power (50 Grade) isn’t special, his ability to hit the ball in the air consistently is truly magnificent. He had groundball rates that hovered around 30% and with his pull rate being well above 45%, he’s going to hit an incredible amount of HRs in spite of his smaller stature.
Oswaldo Cabrera just hit a grand slam. He hit 29 HR last year after hitting 22 HR total from 2016-20. The Yankees had a lot of power breakouts like that in the system last season. pic.twitter.com/moA9Uv9XTR
This isn’t even mentioning the fact that Cabrera is doing this as a switch-hitter, further expanding his versatility. His biggest flaw is his walk rates, something that will hover around 6-7%, but that aggressiveness is fine when you have 30 HR and 30 2B power. He profiles as a modern day 5 hole hitter, someone who’s OBP isn’t going to be the greatest, but they’ll crush mistakes and keep pitchers on their toes as they navigate through the lineup. His bat remains his most impressive quality, but that doesn’t make his other tools anything to scoff at either.
When I mentioned his excellence over the summer, I didn’t go in-depth into how great of a base stealer Oswaldo is. Including this season, Cabrera is 23/26 in stolen base attempts over his last 101 games played. Not only is he capable of stealing 20+ bases, he’s capable of doing so at an extremely efficient rate. Stealing at an 88.4% success rate is phenomenal, and it adds another dimension to his offensive package. His speed and athleticism would greatly help a Yankee team that could definitely use it, and it adds to his value.
Another key to his game is his versatility. Cabrera is a perfect infield utility player, playing 2B/3B/SS and doing so with solid numbers. He had a 7.9 Fielding Runs Above Average at AA in 2021, and while minor league data is much less reliable than it’s MLB counterpart, that’s still a great sign. If he can be a positive defender with his versatility he’s going to be a 3-4 WAR player at the MLB level with relative ease.
The Case To Be Great
If you weren’t excited already, Fangraphs’ Steamer Projections have Cabrera as a 96 wRC+ hitter despite only having 13 games at the Triple-A level. In those games? He’s slashed .435/.519/957 with 5 HRs and 12 total extra base hits. He’s truly becoming a player who every Yankee fan would love to add to their lineup; great athlete, great versatility, and good power. It’s not a matter of if the talent is there anymore; it’s a matter of getting the at-bats to get that one final call-up and don the pinstripes.
There aren’t many players I’m genuinely amped for when they’re prospects since they’re still pretty far away, but Cabrera is an exception. I think he is the best offensive player in the system currently not named Volpe, and he possesses all the tools to have that translate at the biggest stage. He turned 23 in March, and this could be the year Oswaldo Cabrera doesn’t just capture the attention of those in Yankee circles, but the attention of national audiences on baseball’s biggest stage.