I’m on the hunt for the next baseball phenom. I’m searching far and wide through the lower minors looking for players with both the scouting reports with the stats to back them up. The first player that caught my eye was Tampa Bay SS Wander Franco (who is still mashing as a 17-year-old in Rookie Ball. I am infatuated with him and you should be too, please look up my previous post for more on him). Quickly followed by Franco was a toolsy OF prospect who has incredible potential and is finally showing the power that was projected, Cristian Pache. Today I’m going to delve deep into baseball’s evil overlords’ (who else could this be but the Yankees? Maybe the Red Sox or Dodgers but that’s an argument for another day) farm system to find the next phenom to set fire to the minors and into the hearts of fantasy baseball players looking for the next big player to turn around their dynasty fortunes. That player is 17-year-old outfielder Antonio Cabello. He is a player that has been recommended to me multiple times since I started doing these posts and as soon as I looked him up I knew he was next on my list of Phenoms.
Cabello signed with the Yankees in December as a catching prospect from Venezuela who signed for somewhere around $1 million (have been unable to find an exact number but that is slightly irrelevant to my analysis). He is a solid 5′ 10-11″ and 205 lbs, which is impressive for a kid who isn’t even legal to drink in Mexico. Okay, let’s be honest anyone can probably get a drink in Mexico with no problems regardless of age. Most scouts agree that he could add on more size but that would be a detriment to his above average speed so it is most likely this could be his playing weight going forward. Although he was a catcher when he was signed, the Yankees quickly converted him to a CF. Reports so far aren’t great defensively, but he’s young and athletic enough to play the position so that should improve.
By far my favorite tool of his is his hit tool. What he is doing right now in rookie ball at 17 years old (just a couple months older than Franco) is impressive and signifies that he has an advanced hit tool. So far through 141 PAs (as of 8/5/18) he has a slash line of .331/.440/.585 with a wRC+ of 182. Just….wow, I think I can stop my analysis right there and everyone would get the point about this kid. But wait there’s more! He has a BB:K ratio of 19:24. He is walking just about as much as he is striking out. When looking at younger international prospects by far the most common issue among them is strikeouts and poor plate discipline. Cabello has great bat to ball skills as shown by his high average but also he is showing advanced plate discipline for his age as evidenced by his BB:K ratio. The hit tool is the hardest tool to evaluate, especially in younger prospects, but Cabello has one of the top hit tools in the minors right now and its much easier to teach a guy with an advanced hit tool to hit for power (think Altuve) but its hard to teach a power hitter to hit for average (countless international prospects that fizzle out).
Luckily, Cabello isn’t just slapping balls for singles, he is going scorched earth on baseballs (and causing young pitchers to rethink their dreams). He has a ISO of .254 right now. Once again just another ridiculous statistic that should be catching your eye. For reference, Vlad “The Impaler” Jr. (I’m going to get this nickname to stick) had a ISO of .178 in Rookie ball 2 years ago. I’m not going to sit here on my soapbox and preach that Cabello is a better prospect than Vlad Jr. because that is insane but I AM saying you need to take notice of him. On top of his impressive hit tool and power that he’s shown, he has also swiped 5 SB this season (also swiped 5 more in the DSL before coming stateside this year). His speed has been graded between 60-70 right now (this could drop if he puts on weight as he matures but that’s a problem for another day). Cabello was clocked going from home to first at 4.13 seconds. The average for a Major League right-handed hitter going from home to first is 4.3 seconds, so Cabello is well above average. So he has the speed to be a threat on the base paths despite not showing it so far.
The Yankees have had some impressive talent come through their system in recent years and Cabello is just another in a long line. I wanted to compare Cabello to other recent top Yankees’ prospects and their stateside rookie ball debuts. Unfortunately, Judge never played rookie ball so I am unable to make the comparison everyone probably wants to see but was able to grab other interesting guys so all of you will have to deal with what I have.
The first thing I want to point is that Cabello has less PAs than the others on this list but look how his wRC+ just dwarfs the other players, two of whom are doing great things at the Major League level. I’ve already delved into Cabello’s numbers a bit earlier so I won’t spend another paragraph explaining how impressive Cabello is, I’ll just let the numbers do all the talking.
One of the more interesting comps I saw for Cabello was Alex Bregman, but an OF. Cabello is a little stockier at 5’10” and 205 while Bregman is 6′ 1″ and 180 but it’s their batting profiles that gives this comparison some legs. Bregman in the early minors (never played rookie ball so hard to make that direct comparison) had BB% above 10% and very low K% similar to Cabello’s. Cabello and Bregman also have a great mix of power and speed. Cabello definitely has a chance to have a Bregman type offensive profile lets say around .300 with 20 bombs and 20 SB. I think there is potential he could creep up towards 30 homers or SB’s depending on how his frame develops. This is a potential middle of the order hitter or a dynamic leadoff hitter for a Yankees team that should be good for years to come with the young talent they have accumulated. Cabello is a player that all dynasty formats should take note of and target in your next prospect drafts (or grab in those leagues that don’t do prospect drafts) and one that I have targeted to become the next Phenom.
Please follow me on twitter at @BG_DET255 and feel free to ask questions on prospects or tell me who else could be the next Phenom!