Seeking bullpen reinforcement, the Atlanta Braves promoted right-hander Mauricio Cabrera to the major league roster yesterday. He threw one inning of scoreless relief against the Cleveland Indians last night and more chances will come. Let's take a look at what he offers.
Cabrera is from the Dominican Republic, signed as a free agent in July of 2010. He emerged immediately as one of the hardest throwers in the system but his performance as a starter at the lower levels was spotty due to command issues and injuries. He posted a 4.18 ERA in 131 innings in Low-A in 2013, fanning 107 while allowing just 118 hits but walking 71. In 2014 he converted to bullpen work.
He split 2015 between High-A and Double-A, combining for a poor 5.59 ERA in 48 innings with a 53/35 K/BB. 2016 has been more successful: 3.21 ERA in 34 innings in Double-A, 35/22 K/BB with just 20 hits allowed.
Cabrera is listed at 6-3, 245, born September 22, 1993. His standout possession is heat: he was clocked at 98-102 MPH in the minors and indeed he showed that in his MLB debut, hitting 101.9 yesterday according to Pitch F/x. No one doubts the fastball and his consistently strong K/IP and H/IP marks are no fluke, but Cabrera is still unrefined in many ways.
His command is erratic and neither his slider nor his change-up are consistently reliable. The change-up is interesting; it is generally reported in the mid-70s but the single change he threw last night was clocked as 68. Grades on his secondary pitches vary from source to source; he's earned ratings as high as 55 for both pitches but also as low as 45. It depends on when you see him; call them inconsistent.
Although he's still just 22 years old, his body is mature so there isn't much remaining in the projectability department. His command issues are generally traced to difficulty repeating his mechanics, something which may or may not improve in time. He's made some progress over the last two years, enough to earn a middle relief trial, but whether he takes a closer role down the line will depend on making at least one of his secondary pitches more reliable.
This video is three years old but gives the general idea.
Here's some Fangraphs video from the Arizona Fall League.