Prospect Park: Jake Cave

jake cave2The Basics:

Name: Jake Cave
Position: CF
Handedness: Bats and throws Left-handed
Age: 20
Draft: 2011 6th round pick out of Hampton, VA
Size: 6-foot-0, 180-pounds
Best Tool: Hit tool, defense
BBDP Rank: 50

In the year before being drafted, Jake Cave had a phenomenal high school season. He had success as both a pitcher and an outfielder. In his senior season he hit .621 with 4 HR, 16 RBI and 38 runs. He was voted an Aflac All-american. He was also a pitcher in high school and hit 88-91 mph with his fastball.

Like the Hobbit Jake Cave has already had an unexpected journey in his young career. After being named the top prospect in the Coastal Plains League, Cave was drafted by the Yankees in the 6th round and signed to an $800,000 bonus which was way above slot. In his first game in the GCL, Cave broke his kneecap in a collision with the opposing catcher on a play at home. He wouldn’t step onto the field until 2013, two calendar years later.

While this must have been a trying experience for Cave, he pushed through it and played his first full, injury free season in 2013. Overall his season was a resounding success if for no other reason than he managed to stay healthy. He hit .282/.347/.401/.748 with 2 HR, 6 triples, 37 doubles, and 18 SB. He showed solid patience at the plate, and played a solid centerfield with a .992 fielding percentage on the season.

The Tools:

The tool you will hear spoken about the most with Cave is that he is an all-out, hard-nosed ball player. Those types tend to be fan favorites and Jake Cave is no exception.

In addition to his max-effort style of play, however, Cave also has an excellent hit tool and some developing power. He has some lift to his swing which is a bit long but produces above average power. He does an excellent job using the whole field. He has quick hands though, which help to make up for his long swing and make him a solid contact hitter. His speed is above average and he is an aggressive baserunner.

Defensively he has an excellent arm and profiles best as a right fielder. He could probably hold his own in centerfield but after his knee injury he did lose a step and will probably be best suited for right field long term.

Ceiling/Floor:

How close to his ceiling or floor he gets depends a lot on the power he is able to develop. Since it’s likely he will end up a corner outfielder, he’ll need to produce some power to be taken seriously at that position. If he can develop into a 20 homerun guy over the long term he’ll have a shot to be an all-star type big leaguer. If not his floor is similar to Colin Curtis. You probably don’t remember him, but he was a lefty who could hit for average but not much else. He briefly made it out of Triple-A but never stuck.

2014 Outlook:

The fact that the Yankees started him in Charleston in 2013 with virtually no professional experience and he still had a solid season speaks volumes about this kid. He is an aggressive athlete and yet a polished baseball player. As time goes on he should only get better and his physical talent can take him as far as he wants it to.

In 2014 he’ll start out in High-A Ocala*. There he’ll continue to play centerfield, and hopes to increase his power output. If he is able to increase his performance this year he could be destined for Double-A before the end of the season, but given the talent the Yankees have in the Double-A outfield and his need to develop power, which is often a long term concern, I’d say his chances are slim.

Overall Cave is another guy who could have a breakout season in 2014. He has to continue to stay healthy, but now that he has a full season under his belt he can focus on improving his game in the offseason rather than just focusing on getting healthy.

Up next – Prospect Profile: Jordan Cote

*The Yankees have recently struck a deal to move their High-A affiliate to Ocala, Florida. It’s not official yet but it’s the most likely scenario.

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One Response to Prospect Park: Jake Cave

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