Updated: Feb 18, 2019
St. Louis Cardinals waited for the arrival of the strong arm of prospect RHP Jordan Hicks to make the Bigs last season. Flame thrower extraordinaire, triple digits clocked. And on Opening Day 2018 against the New York Mets, making the 25 man roster in relief, he made his debut in the majors.
Hicks was called up for the seventh inning. Allowed one hit, Cardinals defense handed him a double play, followed by his first major league strikeout. Three batters up, three retired. He would go on to amaze while on the hill with the fire he threw. But consistency and control alluded him at times in his 77.2 total innings pitched. Even though, Hicks closed his rookie season with a respectable 3.59 ERA/1.34 WHIP. A bit heavy on the walks issued in his 45-70/BB-SO ratio and six saves to his credentials.
Now, the Cardinals have another in their midst who has a strong arm and only 22 years old from the Dominican Republic. Prospect Genesis Cabrera, who is part of the Cardinals 40 man roster. Not only does he possess 'heat', he is a left-handed pitcher.
He came to the Cardinals via part of the OF Tommy Pham trade with the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline in July 2018. In exchange for Pham, the Cardinals received three minor league players. LF Justin Williams, pitchers G Cabrera and Roel Ramirez.
Cabrera has raised some eyebrows in Spring training which "officially" began for pitchers this past Tuesday, February 12.
In 2018, Cabrera was with three minor league teams - Montgomery (AL) Biscuits, Rays Double-A affiliate and both Cardinals affiliates, Springfield (MO) Cardinals Double-A and at Memphis (TN) Triple-A with the Redbirds. A work in progress with 140.1 IP, 25 AA-AAA game starts, he was 8-9/4.17 ERA/1.318 WHIP. He held a 71-148/BB-SO ratio. In my opinion, work needed for him as much as with Hicks, to bring the walks issued to a minimum.
He has played in the Dominican Winter League the past two winters. Interesting to note out of the bullpen, 2017-2018 he only saw 1.2 IP for a 5.40 ERA. This past winter, 2018-2019, with 14.1 IP, he turned in a 1.26 ERA and a 2-21/BB-SO ratio.
From the scouting report in 2017, Baseball Census: Fastball (60), Velocity: 88-92/T-93; Curveball (40), 73-74/T-75; Slider and Changeup (50 each) with his slider velocity at 83-84/T-85 and changeup at 80-81/T-82. No, not a triple digit thrower, but throws hard to achieve his results. That was two seasons ago.
From the excitement of the Cardinals, I'm presuming Genesis Cabrera has vastly improved since the above mentioned scouting report was published. As they should be. Currently his fastball has improved to 97 mph. "This combo of fastball and slider could make him an effective reliever not only against left-handed hitters, but also against right-handed batters." (Fansided, Russ Robinson) What may his near future hold. Starter? Relief? It may be a situation much like RHP Alex Reyes, possibly begin in the bullpen and move into a starting role later in the season. Or, assigned back to Memphis to help the Redbirds until a future date to make his major league debut.
No matter. Will be worth your while to keep this prospect on your radar.
Reportedly, Cardinals will keep this young hurler on their 'watch list' during Spring Training. Per manager Mike Shildt (KSDK) : "He's going to be a guy we evaluate as we go and then we'll table him for later. But he's a guy we're definitely excited about watching," Shildt said.
Of course, Spring Training games won't begin until Saturday, February 23. And, of course, Shildt has not seen young Cabrera in a game situation. However, he's looking forward to see what he's capable of. Will Cardinals fans see him make his Spring Training debut during Game One? Make sure you are watching from afar as the game vs. the Miami Marlins will be televised on FSMW at 12:05 CST. And definitely if you are one of the fortunate to be at the game - 'up close and personal' listen for "Genesis Cabrera".
CARDINALS HAVE NO PLANS TO ADD ON
In my opinion, the Cardinals organization learned a very valuable lesson last season bringing Greg Holland on board without the advantage of Spring Training. A very good pitcher, but without the benefit of a full month of preseason training, did not do well coming in virtually "cold turkey".
WHAT IS REALIZED
The one thing the Cardinals do possess are 'arms' with strength in a starting role ~ young and seasoned veterans. They will only chose five of ten - eleven possibles whom they hold a great deal of confidence and trust in. Therefore, leaving a good number of extreme talent to fill their bullpen.
You don't agree? That is your prerogative. But I feel, you will change your tune ~ as much as fans did regarding starter Miles Mikolas in 2018 ~ in 2019.
QUITE THE VISUAL
As far as flamethrowers go - Hicks with his 100-104 mph fastball from the right. G Cabrera's heater of 97 mph from the left. Quite the visual of what damage they could do collectively for the Cardinals. And that's just two pitchers to watch progress and succeed.