Results tagged ‘ Alberto Cabrera ’

Cubsgrafs: Turkey trot

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Whether you’re all about the tryptophan-induced football coma or you prefer bowling away the holidays with your family, we’ve got a bonus, Thanksgiving-themed edition of Cubsgrafs for you.

Let’s define a new toy stat—a “turkey”—based on the nickname given when a bowler rolls three strikes in a row. For baseball, we’ll tally a turkey each time a pitcher records a three-pitch strikeout. The results for the 2012 season, limited to Cubs with at least 20 innings, are below.

So who are the Cubs’ 2012 turkey champions? The answers may surprise you.

It turns out three relievers—Scott Maine, Shawn Camp and Alberto Cabrera—stood above the rest with more than 6 percent turkeys per batter faced. But it’s Camp who deserves special recognition for being so efficient with the strikeouts he did rack up. Nearly four out of every 10 of his K’s took the minimum three pitches. It turns out that, while Camp may have been a fair bit below the team’s average strikeout rate, he also had the bullpen’s highest strike percentage (64%). It’s a definite boost for the Cubs that they’ve re-signed Camp for 2013.

Similarly, Travis Wood may have been only average with his strikeout rate, but he established himself as the rotation’s leader in three-pitch K’s. He and fellow lefty Paul Maholm were pretty efficient when they did rack up strikeouts, while the actual K kings Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster were a little less direct to the end goal.

Now, there’s not much reason to think that’s a bad thing. Many times you want a pitcher to bury his secondary offerings and get batters to chase. But for tonight’s feast, we’ll hand out the drumsticks to Camp and Wood and let the rest work their way through some sides first.

Winter League Highlights: Perez reaches base 5 times

Alberto Cabrera pitched a pair of scoreless innings for Toros del Este Tuesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Estrellas de Oriente went more than the distance Tuesday in a 6-5, sixteen-inning win over Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League. The almost seven-hour game finally ended when Juan Diaz singled to left in the top of the 16th, scoring Jonathan Galvez. A pair of Cubs prospects played a role in the win.

Nelson Perez‘s on-base percentage jumped when he reached base in five of his eight at-bats. The Double-A outfielder went 1-for-4 and drew four walks. He’s hitting .244 with a .385 OBP on the season. Dominican teammate Junior Lake went 1-for-7 with an RBI single in the seventh.

Another pair of Cubs arms played for Toros del Este Tuesday. Major league reliever Alberto Cabrera made his second appearances of the Dominican season, going two innings, surrendering no runs on two hits, and striking out four in a Toros loss. Jeffry Antigua pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out two.

Cubs outfielder Dave Sappelt hit his first homer of the Venezuelan season, a two-run shot to center. He finished the day 1-for-5 in a 12-2 Bravos de Margarita win.

In other Venezuelan action, Luis Valbuena had a pair of hits, including a double, in a 6-5 loss for Cardenales de Lara.

In Mexico, Esmailin Caridad pitched a scoreless eighth in a 3-0 win for Yaquis de Obregon.

2012 Player Profile: Alberto Cabrera

Alberto Cabrera could get a shot in the starting rotation in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)

2012 Innings Pitched: 21.2 (25 G, 0 GS)
2012 Pitching (all per 9 IP): 6.23 RA, 6.6 H, 7.5 BB, 0.4 HR, 11.2 K
2012 Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs): 0.1
2013 Contract Status: Signed (Pre-Arb, First Year)
Repertoire (Avg. MPH): Four-seam (94), Two-seam (94), Slider (83), Change (87)

If there’s a project worth keeping an eye on for 2013, it may be the one that pitching coach Chris Bosio started with Alberto Cabrera this season.

Bosio focused on making simple, yet fundamental, changes in pitchers this past Spring Training—things like grips, arm angles, pressure on the landing foot and other small tweaks that can unlock a pitcher’s potential. Cabrera was one of his earliest success stories, as Bosio had the (then) 23-year-old change his sinker grip, producing immediate results. The velocity of the pitch jumped into the mid- to high 90s, and it began darting away from left-handed hitters a lot like Steve Carlton’s slider, in the words of Bosio himself.

Now the Cubs feel they may have a future rotation candidate in Cabrera, who is slated to be stretched out in Triple-A Iowa to start next season.

There’s a lot to like with Cabrera, who was signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. He stands 6-foot-4, has a live arm and throws with a free-and-easy delivery. In his first tour through the majors last season, he also showed an effective third pitch with his change-up.

He’s taken his lumps at every level along the way, but he’s shown the ability to bounce back and improve his second time through. The 2012 season represented his best yet in a number of areas, including a career-best 3.11 ERA in 55 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

Nowhere was Cabrera’s improvement more apparent than in his strikeout rate, which doubled from about 15 percent a year ago to more than 30 percent this season. And he was able to more or less maintain that standard in his brief major league stint, in which he struck out more than 27 percent of batters faced. Meanwhile, his walk rate halved from 10.3 percent to 5.7 percent, though he struggled with free passes in the majors. But the development was apparent across several of his component stats.

Let’s take a quick look at Cabrera’s PITCHf/x data, using the proprietary tags and tools provided by BrooksBaseball.net and Baseball Prospectus (player card). It’s a limited set of information based on just 21 major league innings, but it does provide a glimpse of his relative strengths against batters on both sides of the plate.

Against right-handed hitters, Cabrera largely relies on his four-seam fastball and slider, using power stuff to blow away hitters. He deals with left-handers, on the other hand, by mixing in a hard change-up that fades away from the batter like his sinker, but it travels about seven miles per hour slower. He can also mix in his slider, attacking the batter inside and tying up swings.

The Cubs feel Cabrera may be more ready than ever for another shot at the rotation, where the organization tried him in the minor leagues up until this year. With the right-hander starting to truly unlock his live arm, it’s a project worth keeping an eye on.

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