I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Yesterday the Minnesota Twins called up Jake Cave. Last night, he made his presence felt in his big league debut.
1st @MLB hit ✅— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 20, 2018
1st MLB HR ✅#MNTwins outfielder Jake Cave went deep in his 2nd career at-bat in the big leagues. Cave is No. 25 on the @Twins Top 30 Prospects list: https://t.co/QHu30lLXv6 pic.twitter.com/gSrEbb8jkK
Cave has always been a personal favorite of mine. I began writing about the Yankees farm system in 2013, and that’s when Cave really began his climb. While Cave’s value was always more in a fourth outfielder role, he still seemed deserving of a chance in the bigs by now.
Well, after a March trade, and a once-again struggling Byron Buxton, Cave finally got his shot. And he celebrated it with a shot of his own.
“I’ve been up and down and over and out”: The journey of Jake Cave.
Cave was drafted out of high school in Virginia by the New York Yankees in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He played all of one game in the Gulf Coast League that year and wouldn’t play again until 2013 thanks to knee surgery from a busted knee cap in his debut. Cave essentially began his career as a 20-year-old in the South Atlantic League in 2013 and impressed. He showed his ability to hit the gaps and hit the base paths, leading the Sally with 37 doubles and swiping 18 bags.
He quickly worked his way up the ladder, jumping to Double-A in 2014 and then reaching Triple-A for a stint in 2015. He continued to be a scrappy player, with much more gap power than over-the-fence power and nice speed paired with the ability to play all three outfield positions relatively well.
By 2016, his speed began to diminish and his strikeout rates rose while the walk rates didn’t. In an already crowded outfield situation, the Yankees left Cave unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and he headed to the Reds. Unable to stick, the Yankees got him back and instead of returning to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he began in Trenton. He finished the year strongly in Triple-A, putting up career-best numbers (.324/.367/.554) but still appeared to be the odd-man out.
The Yankees shipped him to Minnesota for RHP Luis Gil a week before the season opened and Cave began the year in Rochester until Saturday.
Got all that?
Cave bats lefty and throws righty. His not an imposing presence at 6-foot, 200 pounds. He is who he is at this point, although he does appear to be developing a little more power now. Prior to 2017, Cave had never hit more than eight home runs in a single season and launched 20 last year. He continues to make consistent contact and find the gaps. His speed has somewhat diminished, but he is still an asset on the bases and in the field. He has an average arm, so combined with his speed, he fits in all three places, but probably winds up in a corner somewhere.
Now 25, it has been a long road to the big leagues for Cave. But as he showed in his debut with a home run, a stolen base and two runs scored, he’s a jack-of-all-trades outfielder that can certainly be helpful on the bench. He was never going to find that chance in a Yankees system as deep as it is, but he should be able to eventually stick as a fourth outfielder.