RAMON CABRERA
CATCHER
Born: November 5, 1989
Height: 5′ 7″
Weight: 202
Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Signed: Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008
How Acquired: Int. FA
Country: Venezuela
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

According to Baseball America, Cabrera signed with the Pirates after converting to catcher.  Consequently, he’s still relatively inexperienced at the position.  He has solid skills in most areas, but the limiting factor with him will be his lack of height and stocky build.  His calling card is a line drive bat and excellent ability to make contact.  He’s decent at receiving and blocking pitches, but he’s increasingly had trouble with base stealers as he lacks a strong arm.  He does run better than you’d expect, at least for now.  He’s the son of Alex Cabrera, who became a premier slugger in Japan.

2008
VSL:  264/367/404, 178 AB, 16 2B, 3 HR, 28 BB, 27 K, 5-5 SB

Cabrera had a good debut in VSL, hitting for decent average with doubles power and good plate discipline.  He had one more walk than strikeout and threw out 40% of base stealers.

2009
VSL:  312/400/468, 77 AB, 6 2B, 2 HR, 12 BB, 11 K, 1-3 SB
R:  291/372/417, 127 AB, 11 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 16 BB, 16 K, 2-3 SB

Opened the season back in VSL and hit well in 20 games, but once the GCL season began he moved to the baby Bucs.  He continued to hit for average with doubles power and a very good eye at the plate, with the same number of walks as Ks.  He threw out 35% of base stealers in the VSL and 29% in the GCL.

2010
A:  269/312/342, 342 AB, 14 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 22 BB, 42 K, 3-7 SB

Cabrera spent the year as the primary catcher at West Virginia.  He hit for a respectable average and made very good contact, fanning only once every eight and a half ABs, but the lack of power and walks left him with weak offensive numbers.  He also started having more problems with base stealers, throwing out only 21%.  That was a good deal below the two catchers who backed him up at different points during the year.  Opponents tried to steal on him 158 times in 90 games, which was an above average frequency for the league, although not by a great deal.  He was solid otherwise behind the plate, with a PB total (12) that wasn’t bad.

2011
A+:  343/410/471, 327 AB, 25 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 38 BB, 29 K, 5-6 SB

At Bradenton, Cabrera had a big year, winning the FSL batting title, a rarity for a catcher.  He struck out fewer than one time every eleven ABs and walked easily more than he fanned.  He played in only two-thirds of the Marauders’ games, due to several factors:  rehab stints by Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit; the need for increased playing time for backup catcher Carlos Paulino, who had a big season of his own; and a couple minor injuries.  Cabrera had no platoon split at all.  Defensively, he struggled, throwing out only 13% of base stealers.  It can’t be blamed on the pitchers, as Paulino threw out 29% and teams tried to steal on Cabrera about 50% more often than they did on Paulino.  Cabrera also had 14 passed balls in 78 games, which was a high rate for the league.

2012
AA:  276/342/367, 384 AB, 22 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 39 BB, 44 K, 0-3 SB
AAA:  400/400/600, 5 AB, 1 2B

Cabrera opened the season backing up Tony Sanchez at Altoona.  He also served as the DH frequently.  When the Pirates moved Sanchez up to AAA in June, Cabrera became the starter.  He struggled through June, batting just .232, although he continued his career-long pattern of making contact consistently.  In July and August he came around with the bat, posting an OPS of .791 and .843, respectively.  His defense improved, as he threw out 20% and committed only five passed balls in 85 games.  He moved up to Indianapolis at the end of the season when Jose Morales got hurt and did some of the catching in the playoffs.

Cabrera was eligible for the Rule 5 draft and the Pirates added him to the roster after the season.  It probably wasn’t a lock that he’d be added, but he finished the 2012 season strongly and will still be only 23 when the 2013 season starts.  On the other hand, his ceiling is limited because he doesn’t have much power, which will make it hard for him to draw walks in the majors, and he probably will never be good at stopping the running game.  His principal skill is putting the ball in play.  He should be at Indianapolis, possibly sharing the catching job with Sanchez again.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2013: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2012
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/12
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
July 2, 2008: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
November 20, 2012: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.