BBB 2017 Top Prospect Coundown #24: Jake Cave

Jake Cave was the Yankees sixth round draft pick in the 2011 amateur Major League Baseball draft. He was selected directly out of high school from Hampton, Virginia. He is a left-handed outfielder, capable of playing all three-outfield positions. The Cincinnati Reds selected Cave in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. After failing to make the Reds' major league roster, he was returned to the Yankees in 2016 for a fee of $25,000.
Photo Credit: Bill Tarutis | Times Leader

Breakdown
Cave is an interesting player. He was a high school pitcher who was topping out in the mid nineties on the radar gun. The Yankees were convinced he had more potential as a hitter, so they had him give up pitching and focus on being an everyday outfielder. None of Cave’s tools are way above average. He essentially grades around average to slightly above average in all 5-tool categories. He’s not a burner out of the box, but he has good secondary speed and his instincts both in the field and on the base paths are exceptional. 

It seem that every scout, coach, and teammate has one word that always comes up when describing Cave. Hustle. Almost every scouting report I’ve seen on Cave will feature something along the lines of “hustles out everything” or “doesn’t take a play off.”  Again, his arm and speed aren't exceptional but he manages to get it done defensively in every outfield position. At the plate, his biggest issue was strikeouts, which he was able to limit last year posting his best strikeout ratio of his career. He hasn’t show much power, but with his 6’0, 200 plus pound frame he could be a late bloomer and develop more power as he goes. If he can add more power to his game, he would certainly have more of an opportunity to become an everyday starter on the major league level.

Projection

On paper and by all scouting standards, Cave is a tailor made fourth outfielder. He can hit a little bit, he’s a good base runner, and you can trust him in the outfield. Most importantly, Cave is a grinder. He's a guy who literally plays every play like it’s his last. A lot of scouts out there compare him to Brett Gardner, which on paper makes no sense because their games aren’t much alike. Yet, it all goes back to his style of play. Cave tries to win every play he is involved in. While his God given tools aren’t at the top of the chart, they are solid. Mix those solid tangibles, with his intangibles and he could surprise some people. Cave is going to have a difficult go at it because of the Yankees young outfield depth. He sits squarely behind Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Clint Frazier, just to name a few. 

A mix of injuries, slumping players, and a hot streak of his own could get Cave to the big leagues this year, but certainly nothing is definite. I see Cave having a solid career as at least a role player in the major leagues. But again, his drive and will to win could make him a wildcard that pushes him to be an everyday starter at the next level. The best way I could sum up Cave is don’t count on him being a force, but if he is don’t be surprised.


Article by: Jesse Bartley

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