Jake Cave used to be a Cincinnati Reds outfielder. If you are reading this article, you probably know that. But if not, and you’re wondering who the heck Jake Cave is – the Reds took him in the Rule 5 draft two years ago and he spent time with the club in spring training. He didn’t make the team and the Reds sent him back to the New York Yankees before the season began. The Yankees have held onto him, and even added him to their 40-man roster – but they just designated him for assignment.

That 2016 season in the Minor Leagues for Jake Cave was solid, but unspectacular between Double-A and Triple-A. Last season, though, was a big step forward. His season began on the disabled list, but made it back just before April ended. He spent the next five weeks in Trenton. In 31 games he doubled 13 times, tripled twice and hit five home runs. He had never hit more than eight home runs in any season.

In the middle of June he went up to Triple-A and the power surge continued. In 72 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he hit 13 more doubles, three more triples and 15 more home runs. He also hit .324 over those 297 plate appearances. In total, between his two stops he hit .305/.351/.542 with 20 home runs, 26 doubles and five triples.

The big step forward in power was a game changer for Jake Cave. He was 24-years-old, and there’s been some power potential in there that scouts had talked about that just hadn’t shown up in the past. Where did the power come from though? Well, he went from a guy, who has generally hit a lot of ground balls, to a guy who hit quite a bit more fly balls, and he also upped his pull rate in 2017. Those two things, along with just maturing, probably explain quite a bit of what happened.

Another thing that happened could be that he began to “sell out” a little bit for power. Jake Cave has never walked a ton in his career, and he’s never been a high contact rate hitter. But in 2017 his walk rate was the lowest of his career, just 6.1%. His strikeout rate was also easily the highest of his career, 26.3%. Combined, his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 115-to-28 isn’t what you want to see.

There’s some give and take with his offensive profile. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is very Adam Duvall-like. But, at least in the Minor Leagues, he’s been capable enough of playing center field. While he moved around to all three outfield spots in 2017, he spent more time in center than anywhere else.

The Reds are clearly familiar with Jake Cave. And they clearly liked him enough a few years ago to take a look at him. It would seem that he’s a better player today than he was then. The odds are that he’s probably still a back-up type who can cover all three spots for you than that he’s a starter. But, if you think he’s capable of playing center field at all it could make some sense to pick him up and see if that power can play in center, even in a part time role.

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24 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I’d take him over Ben Revere. Of course if we pick him up, we have to DFA somebody unless we hope he passes through waivers and then agrees to a minor league deal with us. I don’t see that happening, so who goes? Doug would jettison Stuart Turner, but I don’t think the Reds will do that. Shackleford or Brice? Both of them have looked solid this spring. I don’t know.

    • sultanofswaff

      Tony Cruz has gotten a lot of looks this spring. I think the Reds don’t feel Turner is in their long term plans. Total waste of a roster spot last year regardless.

    • Norwood Nate

      I was just going to post your first sentence, verbatim. As usual Duke you’re on point. I really hope we won’t have to see Revere make the team, but I have a sneaking suspicion he will make it over Ervin. Meh.

  2. Clammy

    If he’s adequate in CF, I’d rather have him over Ben Revere. Younger, cheaper and he could be sent to AAA to start everyday. Revere would have to stay on the active roster or he’d be a FA. Plus that newly found power would play well in Great American Ballpark

  3. IndyRedsFan

    If roster space wasn’t a consideration, I’d say “sure”. But given the current state of the 40 man, I don’t know who I’d drop to make the spot available.
    (I’m reserving the currently open spot for Pennington)

    Additionally, I’m not sure what Cave brings that Phillip Ervin doesn’t, except possibly slightly better defense in CF.

    I suppose you could try the old “claim and sneak” routine with him.

    • jbonireland

      Blandino over Pennington, is already on the 40 man, Cave is probably equal or better then Ervin who has options and Cave bats left handed. Obviously a better hitter then Hamilton.

  4. Scott C

    I agree that if you claim, and I don’t think that is bad idea, then I would DFA Revere. I thought last year and still do that they kept the wrong Rule 5 guy in 2017, so I would not be against DFA ing Turner.

    • Matthew O'Neal

      Revere isn’t on the 40 man. He has nothing to be DFA’d from.

  5. Hoyce

    How about claims cave. And trade bham to Giants. Win/win

  6. Matthew O'Neal

    I vote yes. You have a 40 man spot available. I think that Blandino can handle to back up shortstop until Senzel is ready. Might as well take him on and if he sticks later as a DFA, great. If someone else grabs him, the Reds should be fine with Duvall, Schebler, Winker, Ervin, and Hamilton.

    • Matthew O'Neal

      And by “until Senzel is ready” I mean that until the Reds are done manipulating service time rules.

  7. wes

    He would be a great add to the riverbats if nothing else. I think it’s a great pick up! Get another guy coming into the prime of his career while increasing competition internally in system. Get younger if you get rid of Revere….

    • Doug Gray

      They haven’t been the “riverbats” in 17 years…..

      • mortchristenson

        Well this could help them get back to that!!! ;-)

  8. Jake

    Absolutely! Definitely should be on him.

    There’s an open spot on the 40-man, or DFA Aquino. He’s about to get lost in the shuffle of the numbers game anyway imo.

    • Colt Holt

      I didn’t realize Jake Cave followed the site. Must be following the guys he met at spring training. Welcome!

  9. AirbourneJayJay

    I would go all in on Jake Cave. Don’t wait until he may or may not go through waivers. Contact the Yankees and make the trade for him. Reds have plenty of P depth to offer up for a minor deal.
    One good thing about Cave’s AAA stat line is that it wasn’t accomplished in the hitter friendly PCL. NY’s AAA team is in the International League. The bad thing about Cave’s AAA numbers are that they were the result of a lofty .414 BABIP. That certainly isn’t sustainable, though.
    Cave is a LH hitter, Ervin a RH hitter. Cave and Ervin as the OF bench would be very nice. Both just 25 years old.

  10. Bill

    Yes. We have an open 40-man slot. He and Ervin would be excellent backup outfielders, one lefty and one righty, both capable at all 3 spots.

  11. terry m

    If he can pitch pick him up. Have bad feeling about the pitching for this year. Hope I’m wrong.

  12. Krozley

    Yes. Dilson Herrera just cleared waivers, so they have another spot.

    • sultanofswaff

      Huge win to sneak him through. Now he can restore his value with no time clock. Also helps Blandino’s chances to make the team…….I like him a lot more than Pennington………better bat and can play 3B.

      • victor vollhardt

        If the rest of the spring is like the last two weeks—-Revere will make the team —play CF–and bat leadoff. Hamilton may go to AAA just to get his head thinking clear again and reset himself. If he could bring his confidence back to a .250 hitter(that is 1 for 4) combined with his defense play (and put him down in the lineup to take that part of the pressure off) it would great for everybody. As to Cave–if he could be claimed and re-put through waivers and optioned without losing a 40 man spot–it would be a great deal.

  13. Jake Y.

    I don’t see Ervin or Blandino making the team in a bench role and stunting their growth. I think that exact reason is why Revere and Pennington were brought in. Cave is definitely worth a claim in my opinion, though. Any time you can get a CF-capable player who can hit it’s a plus.