Notes: Praise for Cabrera, other top prospects

February 26th, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Being behind the plate for two innings was all Francisco Cervelli needed to form a quick opinion on prospect ’s upside.

“He’s got a chance to be a superstar, man,” Cervelli said. “That’s it.”

Cabrera, the No. 85 prospect in the Majors per MLB Pipeline, threw his first two Grapefruit League innings on Wednesday in Miami’s 8-7 comeback win over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

Pitching the third and fourth innings, Cabrera allowed one run on one hit with two strikeouts and a hit batter.

The 21-year-old ran his fastball up to 99 mph and mixed in a plus curveball and changeup.

“Pretty much as billed, for me,” manager Don Mattingly said. “For me, he was aggressive. He’s got good arm action on his offspeed stuff.”

Cabrera last year was ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 6 overall prospect and No. 2 pitcher, behind Sixto Sanchez, who was the organization’s No. 1 prospect.

“Today, there was a lot of adrenaline there,” Cervelli said. “The first time he was on the mound in big league camp.”

Cabrera spun a breaking ball that clipped Harrison Bader on the back. On a few of his pitches, his hat popped off.

But for the most part, Cabrera’s delivery was free and easy. The 6-foot-4 right-hander threw hard, regularly touching 98 mph.

“He kind of already has second pitches,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to have to continue to make sure his fastball is where he wants it.”

Cabrera projects to open the season at Triple-A Wichita as part of a rotation that should include prospects Sanchez, Nick Neidert and Jorge Guzman.

Cabrera likely will get another time or two on the mound in camp for the Marlins.

“The first thing is, give him a couple of chances on the mound,” Cervelli said. “When he gets comfortable, he can control his emotions. When he pitches with emotions, it’s not good. This is new for him.”

Off-the-charts power
can change a game with one swing, as he did on Tuesday with his three-run home run in the ninth inning of the Marlins’ 7-4 win at the Astros. What Miami is eager to see is whether the 22-year-old outfield prospect will develop the ability to purely hit.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, Encarnacion is a rangy right-handed hitter who has immense power, especially to the opposite field. In 2019, he split time between Class A Clinton and Class A Advanced Jupiter, combining to hit .276/.331/.425 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs.

Mattingly watched Encarnacion two years ago in the instructional league. He said the prospect has come a long way.

“He was not quite as physical as he is now,” Mattingly said. “But you could see that swing. He was really in right-center.”

The fact that Encarnacion already has a right-center approach works in his favor for developing into more than just a power hitter.

“Anytime you see a guy who starts there, you always like it, because you know that it is hard to hit to the opposite side where you’re hitting the ball like he does,” Mattingly said. “When you’re seeing a guy just pull, pull, pull, it looks great in BP, but you also know that during the season, that’s going to have holes. So a guy that can start [right-center] and learn to pull is really in a better position.”

Díaz provides big homer
In the Marlins’ four-run eighth inning on Wednesday, first-base prospect blasted a home run to right field.

The Marlins acquired Díaz from the Twins last July 27 as part of the Sergio Romo deal before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

“You just see a different look from him,” Mattingly said. “I love the way his hands work. He’s got some Carlos Delgado in there, with that low hand path. It’s short to the ball, and it’s power the other way. And it’s contact, too. Not a lot of strikeouts, and he’s good around the bag.”

Díaz keeps his hands low, near his belt, and has shown the ability to handle pitches up and throughout the zone.

“This is another guy,” Mattingly said. “It was great for us at the Trade Deadline last year. It hurt us giving up Sergio. But we end up getting back a guy that you really like.”

Youth baseball, softball event
The Marlins are inviting the South Florida youth baseball and softball community to Jupiter on Sunday for a complimentary youth clinic presented by NIKE. Space is capped at 200, so interested participants should preregister at Marlins players and prospects will lead the drills, which will take place on the same field where they train. The event begins at 2:30 p.m.

Up next
On Thursday, the Marlins go under the lights for their first night Grapefruit League game, taking on the Mets at 7:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Robert Dugger, competing for the fifth-starter spot, gets his first spring start after tossing two shutout innings of relief. Jordan Yamamoto, also in the mix for fifth starter, is scheduled to throw in relief.