Photo credit: Fish on the Farm @marlinsminors
It was a late March day. I found myself perched five rows behind Derek Jeter and Mike Hill preparing myself for the Marlins Future Game. It was a game where the Front Office, families, and media members were getting a chance to see some of the top prospects in the organization all on one field together. A chance to see the growth and development players have made after the 2018 season and a strong spring training.
Shortly after first pitch, it became clear there was a player putting himself front and center.
96 mph. 97mph. 97mph.
Those were the first three pitches of the day for Edward Cabrera – a lanky 20-year-old starter with a live arm that just sounded…different.
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) March 25, 2019
I’ll be the first to say I hadn’t seen Edward pitch live since I saw an extremely raw arm in 2016 for the GCL Marlins, but it was clear this wasn’t even the same pitcher we saw 2018. He looked in control of his delivery and was utilizing his size for seemingly the first time in his young career. I was instantly intrigued. Cabrera was signed out of the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2015 for a slight $100,000. A++ fastballs with two projectable breaking balls was an easy choice. Only 16 when signed, his first few years in the system were handled with care. Making 24 starts over his 2016 and 2017 seasons, Cabrera posted a 4.75 ERA in 82.2 IP, but he only allowed 2 total homeruns and only walked 18 batters. Encouraging numbers for a guys who’s 17 and 18 years old respectively. After the positive results as his body developed, Miami decided to test the young arm putting him full-season A-ball in 2018 to start the year. It was a big test for the 19-year-old, and Cabrera battled his share of growing pains. Starting 20+ games and tossing 100 innings for the first time in his career, control was an issue early and often. After having a 4.9% Walk rate his first 2 years, that number ballooned to 9.8% in 2018. He walked 42 batters in 100.1 innings, and another big concern was the 11 homeruns allowed after just 2 total in the previous years. It was a year you really could break down to find where improvements needed to be, which brings me back to the pitcher I saw that day in March. This is a different Edward Cabrera I’m seeing. It’s only three innings, but I watch a lineup struggle with the arsenal in every AB. High 90s fastball in the top of the zone, paired with a big hook for a curveball and a changeup that has started to flash as a plus put out pitch. This is a pitcher who hasn’t looked this in control ever before. How could he catapult this into a great 2019? Going into the MiLB regular season, Cabrera was poised to be another talented arm in a Jupiter Hammerheads rotation featuring Sixto Sanchéz, Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers and Will Stewart. It was his first taste of A+ ball and the best rotation he’d ever been a part of. The expectations for Edward going into the year were mixed due to lack of experience, but he has silenced those critics in the first half of the season, and, in my eyes became, possibly the best arm talent in the Marlins organization. Wait. Not a Top 100 prospect? Not Sixto? Not Gallen? How could I believe something like that? Let me happily explain. What Edward Cabrera is doing in 2019 is special. No other way to call it. He’s made tremendous strides in all facets of his game and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. 2019 Stats:
- 53.0 IP, 2.04 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 11.04 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, 0.17 HR/9, 0.92 WHIP, 65 Ks, 16 BB (All Career Bests)
Among Current FSL pitchers:
- 3rd in ERA
- 4th in Ks
- 2nd in WHIP
Take a look at what he’s doing so far this year. Those are better numbers then Sandy, Sixto, Gallen, and eerily similar to one former Marlin.
• Jose Fernandez (High-A 2014): 55 IP, 9.65 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, 1.96 ERA, 2.34 FIP • Edward Cabrera (High-A 2019): 53 IP, 11.04 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.04 ERA, 2.22 FIP pic.twitter.com/WSLp4vbzb3 — Alex Ferrer (@PastyA_) June 13, 2019
I saw that and was a tad taken back. Their years in Jupiter have mirrored themselves up to this point.
To add a few more numbers to Alex’s surprising tweet:
Fernandez: BABIP .273, LOB% 79.3, BB% 7.8, BB% 46.4
Cabrera: BABIP .269, LOB% 73.1, BB% 7.8, BB% 46.5
It’s shocking to see these two wildly different pitchers with very similar results. With Jose, you almost expected it, and he then turned that year into his Rookie of the Year campaign the following season. That is not the path for Cabrera, nor were we ready for a year like he is having.
Growth and development of pitchers can be tricky in every situation. Getting players to become pitchers rather than throwers is the first step. Prior to 2019, Cabrera was known to be more of a thrower. Displaying a triple digits fastball paired with inconsistent secondary’s. He wasn’t under control of his pitches and it was leading him to unwanted results. Cabrera took to the offseason and came back a renewed pitcher we haven’t seen before. His plus command was the first thing anyone should notice
This is a massive improvement. As he’s striking guys out at his highest clip and pitching more efficiently than we’ve seen from him before. With a changeup that’s been quoted as more a glorified two-seamer sitting between 90-92, it’s finally keeping hitters off balance due to the fact he can control it. The changeup has been a pitch the Marlins organization has developed tremendously the past few years, and it’s showing a new pupil in Cabrera.
Every aspect of his game is showing improvement. After allowing a homerun nearly every 9 innings in 2018, he’s only given up 1 HR on the year, and that came in his season debut. Opponents had feasted on his lack of control in the past, hitting .278 off of Cabrera up until this year. In 2019, opposing batters are hitting a meager .178 going into the All Star break.
These are numbers that are becoming impossible to ignore.
This newfound control is opening the eyes of scouts and opening the opportunities for his career. Getting projected as possibly a back-end starter or high leverage reliever prior to this season, I think his ceiling has taken a massive leap in 2019. His game is starting to scratch the surface as an elite arm, and the results are there.
The First half of the season was the start of something very special with Edward Cabrera. The Marlins started to unlock a potential elite prospect — a player I’m extremely comfortable calling the best arm talent in the system. He’s a player who should be all over your favorite prospect lists by the end of 2019 and should be on your radar today. An FSL All-Star this week…maybe a Jacksonville call next week? We can only wait and watch.