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Is Asdrubal Cabrera Draft Worthy?

Asdrubal Cabrera got the chance to play every day for the Indians down the stretch in 2007 and showed enough to merit the full-time second base job for the club in 2008. And then he was terrible. Before being sent to Triple-A in early June, Cabrera posted a .184/.282/.247 line in 185 plate appearances.

But he found his stroke at Buffalo, where he hit for both average and power, and soon found himself back in the majors. Cabrera continued to hit after his recall, posting a .320/.398/.464 line in his final 233 plate appearances. In September alone, he had 15 runs, 22 RBIs and a .416 average, thanks to a .448 BABIP.

So, should fantasy owners expect Cabrera to more closely resemble the player who struggled mightily in the first half or the one who outperformed Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts in the second half?

Upon his recall, Cabrera made more contact and hit the ball with more authority. His K% was 25.3 percent before being sent down and was 19.1 percent in his second stint in the majors in 2008. His isolated slugging was .063 before the demotion and .144 after the recall. How do these numbers compare with Cabrera’s minor league stats?

Since being acquired from the Mariners via trade in mid 2006, here are Cabrera’s minor league numbers:

AA	368	.310	.333	.454	.144	11.4
AAA	369	.293	.353	.396	.103	19.5

If we break down the numbers even further, we see Cabrera struggled in his first exposure to Triple-A (.263/.293/.337) as a 20-year old, but did quite well there last season (.326/.375/.475).

It should come as no surprise that Cabrera struggled in the majors as a 22-year old in the beginning of last season. The encouraging thing is that he got straightened out in the minors and came back to Cleveland and did very well.

Even though Cabrera’s minor league BABIPs are very good, it’s unrealistic to expect him to post the .365 BABIP that he did in the second half of 2008. That figure would have placed him fifth in the majors in the category. However, his other numbers are not out of line with what he has done in the minors and are reasonable numbers to maintain in the majors.

From the small samples that we have, Cabrera is more likely to post a K% under 20 percent than he is to be above 25 percent. And an isolated slugging mark in the vicinity of .140 is not out of the question. He did that in Double-A in 2007 and in Triple-A (.149) in 2008.

The Bill James projection (.277-10-62 with 84 runs and 11 steals) seems very reasonable, although I might go for a little higher average and a few less steals. Either way, that’s a very similar, although slightly superior, season to what Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura put up in 2008.

Cabrera will be an afterthought on Draft Day in most mixed leagues next season. But by the end of the season he will be on an active roster in most leagues. He is definitely someone to consider in the final rounds of your draft.