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Scouting Report: RHP, Chris Cabrera
Name: Chris Cabrera
DOB: December 25, 1992
"The Yankees liked me the most," Cabrera said of signing through the help of a translator. "I had interest in two teams, the Yankees and the Red Sox, so of course it was the Yankees I wanted to be with."
Unable to pitch in official minor league games yet, Cabrera was limited to just working out on the back fields of the Yankees Dominican complex since July, but he feels he has already come a long way in a short period of time.
"I've been working on a lot and I feel like I've improved a lot since I signed," he said. "Mechanically I've been working on my finish and follow-through, and I've also been working on my curveball mostly.
Striking a strong physical resemblance to current Yankee farmhand Arodys Vizcaino, like Vizcaino, Cabrera has the chance to be a special pitching prospect someday.
"I like the spin," Yankees senior vice president Mark Neman said of his curveball. "He looks a little bit like what [Arodys] Vizcaino looked like at the same age, although he's not quite as tall.
"Vizcaino is 6-foot-2, 6-foot-1, Cabrera is 5-foot-11. But he can spin the ball and he's got a good arm, and he throws it over the plate. The delivery is pretty solid."
What has the Yankees excited is that Cabrera, who would only be in his junior year of high school if he had grown up in the United States, already boasts a big league fastball and that's a strong foundation for a pitcher so young.
"I saw an average [big league] fastball," Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras said. "He had been working out for about a month with us at the complex before Instructional League started. By the time I left Instructional League he was pitching in the strike zone, which is very good.
"The changeup of course needs work and his breaking ball needs work, but it looks like he can spin the ball. It's not a complete curveball right now, it's a breaking ball.
"He's pitched well. He's a youngster but he looks like he's going to be somebody very interesting for us. He has some upside."
Cabrera and the Yankees are both hoping that he can continue Vizcaino's lead and bypass the Dominican Summer League entirely in his professional debut season next year.
"God willing I'm going to do that," Cabrera said. "My mindset is obviously to pitch in the big leagues [someday], so my hope is I get to start pitching in the United States next season."
And while the power is there at a young age, what does make Cabrera stand out from most teenage prodigies isn't just his power, but his command.
"I'm more of a command pitcher," he opined. "I'm not a thrower, I like to work in the zone and I can compete with the best."
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Cabrera reportedly sits in the 89-92 MPH range with his four-seam fastball and topped out at 96 MPH [although that has been unconfirmed] and the word is he has uncanny command of it for such a young pitcher. He is well built too so many scouts believe he will add some velocity as he physically matures.
Other Pitches. Where the Vizcaino comparisons really come into play is with his developing curveball. Like Vizcaino, Cabrera has an ability to spin the ball and get some good depth on his breaking ball, a rare quality for a pitcher so young out of Latin America. He will need to show better command of it but that's not really an issue when talking about pitchers his age. If Cabrera has a leg up on Vizcaino at the same age it is with his changeup. He shows an advanced feel for a changeup already and it currently serves as his primary secondary pitch.
Pitching. While he can throw hard for such a young pitcher, Cabrera prides his game more on his command than his power. He likes to attack batters and that will only be more evident as he further develops his curveball and changeup. He is naturally strong and he gives every indication that he should be able to pitch deep into games. He is also quite athletic on the mound and has shown to be pretty adept at fielding his position during PFP's [pitchers fielding practice].
Projection. It's too early to get a succinct read on his projection because he's so young and has yet to pitch in official games, but the fact that he's so advanced for a pitcher at his age with his combination of power and advanced feel for secondary pitches, not to mention good command, that his ceiling seems pretty vast. The comparisons to Arodys Vizcaino at a similar age are quite astounding.
ETA. N/A. Cabrera has the game to make the jump immediately into the Gulf Coast League next season, but where he begins his professional career will most likely depend on how many high school arms the Yankees select in next year's draft.
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