He’s been around long enough that its easy to forget that he’s just 25 years old. He gets labeled as a tweener, because he’s not a great defensive CF or a great offensive LF, but guys like this are often better than people realize, and there’s still upside left with Cabrera. He’s a really good contact hitter and strong enough to add to his current gap power levels. He doesn’t even have to add all that much power to turn himself into a legitimate 20-20 threat.
He may not look like a classic corner outfielder, but Cabrera can play, and I think Braves fans will be pleasantly surprised with what he offers. His defense is going to be a solid plus in a corner, and he’s not far from being a quintessential #2 hitter. Given his physical skills and age, don’t be surprised if he locks down an outfield spot in Atlanta for the next several years.
Like Cameron’s take above, CHONE is also high on the Yankees’ former center fielder. Sean Smith’s projection system forecasts Melky to hit .296/.367/.441 this season, a triple slash line well above his .269/.331/.385 career average. CHONE expects Melky’s walk percentage – 8.0% in 2009 – to increase from a season ago, nudging up to 9.3% in 2010, and his power to swell a bit, as well, with his career high ISO of .142 from ’09 raising to .145 this year.
While the gains in walk percentage are possible, I doubt Melky will actually improve upon the power we witnessed in Yankee Stadium last season. His .153 ISO in Yankee Stadium seemed to be a product of the park itself – or an outright anomaly – rather than a development in player performance (his career ISO is .115). Plus, as a farmhand, Melky was rarely thought of as a prospect with much power. As Cameron says, he has upside, but it is limited. Before we begin casting Melky as a potential 20-20 player, I think we have to wait and see how he does in 2010 with Atlanta.
When you think about it, a corner outfielder with a great glove and the ability to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases is a pretty valuable commodity. However, if such an outcome is Melky’s absolute ceiling, meaning that everything would have to go right in order for it to be reached, including him in a package for Javier Vazquez was really a no-brainer.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images