THE PAST: Originally signed out of Venezuela by Pittsburgh, Cabrera spent two seasons playing in the Venezuelan Summer League before coming to the United States. He played in the Gulf Coast League in 2009 and the South Atlantic League the next year before having a breakout season with the bat for Bradenton in the Florida State League in 2011. That year he led the FSL with a .343 batting average and had three homers and 53 RBIs in 92 games. Last year the switch-hitter who turned 23 in November played for Double-A Altoona, where he hit .276 with three homers and 50 RBIs in 112 games. He played in one contest for Triple-A Indianapolis and had a single and a double in five at-bats against Louisville.
THE FUTURE: Cabrera was solid but not spectacular behind the plate for Altoona, making just four errors and allowing just four passed balls in 84 games but throwing out just 20 of 99 would-be base-stealers. At the plate Cabrera is tough to strike out, ranking third in the Eastern League last season with one strikeout every 9.73 at-bats. He isn’t big; he is listed as 5-8 and 194 pounds. Cabrera provides upper-level depth behind the plate for the organization, allowing younger Detroit catching prospects such as James McCann and Curt Casali to develop at the lower levels of the organization before getting promoted to Toledo.
WORTH NOTING: Cabrera’s father, Alex, played in the majors with Arizona in 2000, batting .262 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 31 games. Alex Cabrera then signed with the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League and played eight seasons in that league. His best year was 2002, when he batted .336 with 55 home runs and 115 RBIs and was named the Pacific League’s MVP. His 55 home runs tied Japan’s single-season record, which was set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and tied by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001. Last season, at age 40, Alex Cabrera played in eight games for Softbank and batted .207 with a home run and three RBIs.