It’s well-known that the Marlins are filthy rich in starting pitching talent right now. Going into the 2019 season, we knew the Major League rotation would be filled out and that the Jupiter Hammerheads rotation would be lights out. What wasn’t fully expected was the rise of Edward Cabrera.
In 2018, the right-hander struggled with his control which led to too many walks and, subsequently, runs. His 4.22 ERA in Class-A Greensboro was nothing to write home about, but one thing remained obvious: he had some of the most electric stuff in the entire organization. It was well understood that if Cabrera improved his control and secondaries, he could be one of the best arms in baseball. This year, he’s been pitching like it.
He has a 2.01 ERA, a .191 batting average against, and a 90:24 strike-out to walk ratio in 76 innings. “I’ve followed the coaching, with my mechanics and thank God, it’s given results,” said Cabrera before his last start.
credit: Fox Sports Florida
He began the year High-A Jupiter, but the Marlins saw he was ready for the jump to Double-A where he faces a new challenge.
“[The batters are] a bit smarter, and that makes me work smarter too. I have to focus more on improving my pitches and making more quality pitches,” said Cabrera. That focus has paid off. in three starts with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Cabrera has not missed a beat.
In his most recent start on Sunday, he faced a stacked Mississippi Braves lineup that included two of the best hitting prospects in baseball, Christian Pache and Drew Waters. How did he fare? Well, in the first inning, he showed some of what was seen last year. Electric stuff but lack of command. He started the inning hot, striking out Pache on 3 pitches. However, after giving up a double to Drew Waters, he threw five straight balls, and it was starting to look like one of those days where one just doesn’t have it going for them. That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
After the bout of wildness, Cabrera settled in and showed everyone at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville what he’s all about. After the first inning, Cabrera did not get into a single 3-ball count. Peppering strikes with his upper-90s heater and then using his curveball and changeup to miss bats outside of the zone, the Braves lineup looked lost. He only gave up one run on a leadoff solo homer off the bat of Ryan Casteel in the 4th inning. That didn’t shake him either. He cruised through the game throwing just 82 pitches in 6 innings of work. Most impressive? 57 of those pitches were strikes. “My plan was to improve the execution of my pitches,” he said. “I knew I was facing a good team but that never holds me back. I have full confidence in myself and, thank god, I had a good start.”
Cabrera also flashed some of his athleticism making a throw across his body to 2nd base on a ball fielded on the first base side of the diamond to get the lead runner out. Just as funny, and as breathtaking as it was scary, he made a very athletic play on a 2-strike foul bunt to record an already sure out. He was shaken up a bit after the play which led the trainer and manager Kevin Randel to come out and check on him, but he was just fine, and threw a 97mph fastball on the very next pitch.
ICYMI: Edward Cabrera had a strong outing in game one for his Baseball Grounds debut but this leaping grab he had in the 5th inning was equally impressive. Watch it here. 📻 @Roger_Hoover @ESPNAssignDesk pic.twitter.com/9dgi8RVDHs
— Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (@JaxShrimp) July 14, 2019
Batters simply just aren’t comfortable facing his repertoire. Fellow teammate, Riley Mahan, said, “Cabrera is disgusting. I faced him in spring training. Luckily, he walked me, and I didn’t have to swing the bat.”
Cabrera’s favorite pitch, his fastball, sits between 94-96 mph, and he’s able to bump it up all the way up to 99 mph, even later in games.
His change-up misses barrels with some solid arm side run, but it lacks much separation from his fastball. He threw it as hard as 92mph on Sunday. However, it has the potential to be a much better pitch as he takes some velocity off it.
His curveball was impressive. Thrown for the most part in the lower-80s, he was able to land the big breaking ball in the zone consistently keeping batters off balance. Similarly to Sixto Sanchez, his ability to throw strikes with all his pitches kept hitters off his fastball and kept contact weak. He forced lots of balls to be hit on the ground as well.
3 pitch K for Edward Cabrera. 99mph fastball followed by a nasty 84mph breaking ball 😱 pic.twitter.com/SYmZPpOEQD
— Luis Davila🌴 (@luisrdavi) July 14, 2019
Both Cabrera and Sanchez come from the Dominican Republic, and now that they’re both in Jacksonville, they even live together. “We get along like if we were brothers,” said Cabrera about his flame-throwing teammate. Now, it seems they’re on the fast track to the major leagues, potentially making the Marlins roster at some point next season together.
There’s been no shortage of starting pitching talent this year, and Cabrera has been the Marlins best example of what they’re all about. He’s a young, electric arm performing well above his expectations, and he somewhat unfairly remains under the radar. Expect him to garner more attention as the season progresses, and consider him the current front runner for 2019 Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.