On Friday, the Twins swung a trade with the Yankees, bringing outfielder Jake Cave to the organization, and sending pitcher Luis Gil to the evil empire. I don’t know anything about Luis Gil, but that’s Pinstripe Alley’s problem now. I also don’t know anything about Jake (not Nick) Cave, but that is about to change.
Cave was the 209th pick in the 2011 MLB draft. The Twins had a chance at him, but took Dereck Rodriguez, son of Pudge, at pick 208 instead. This draft also had the Twins taking Levi Michael, Travis Harrison, Jason Wheeler, Nick Burdi, and a few other guys you may have heard of, but no one who is likely to be more than organizational filler for them. That is to say, Cave doesn’t have a very high bar to clear to become the best member of that class to play for the Twins. Coming out of high school, he was a southpaw pitcher who could hit 94 with his fastball, but the Yankees liked him better as a position player. He is supposed to be a capable outfielder at all three positions, but is considered to be primarily a left fielder.
After two appearances in rookie ball in 2011, Cave broke his right kneecap in his first game of 2012 and missed the rest of that season. He broke it colliding into a catcher in an attempt to break up an out at home, but somehow played the rest of the game. If anything, missing 20112 makes his rise through the minors all the more impressive. Cave hit .282/.347/.401 in Low-A ball in 2013, and did even better in 2014, splitting the year between High-A and Double-A, batting a combined .294/.351/.414. That 2014 season was when he reach his pinnacle as a prospect, with Baseball America ranking him the Yankees’ #17 prospect. He followed that season up by reaching Triple-A in 2015, but still spent most of that year at Double-A. Since then, he has been shuttling between Double-A and Triple-A, but has primarily played for Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre. The Twins’ Triple-A team in Rochester, where he will likely start this year, should be familiar with him, as they face each other often.
In 2015, the Reds took Cave number two overall in the Rule-5 Draft, but he was unable to stick on their roster and returned to the Yankees organization. Cave was left unprotected again 2016, and only added to the 40-man after the 2017 season.
After the 2017 season, our friends over at Pinstripe Alley thought Cave could be part of a trade for pitching. I highly doubt this was the trade they pictured. In their season review, they saw a lot of potential in him as a fourth outfielder, but also noted that his ceiling in that organization was as the fifth outfielder, being blocked by the deep New York outfield. That depth was only exacerbated by the their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, which ultimately led Cave to being the expendable guy on the 40-man roster when the Yankees recently signed infielder Neil Walker. According to Mike Berardino, the Twins were interested in Cave back in July as a possible part of the Jaime Garcia trade (the Twins got two pitchers instead).
MLB Pipeline suggests that Cave’s run tool is his best asset, rating it at 55, while his overall grade checks in at a 45 on the 80-20 scale. His weakest tool is power, which still rates at 45. Long story short, he isn’t great at anything, but also isn’t bad at much. Since he swings from the left-handed side of the plate, he joins a deep pool of young, left-handed outfielders in Minnesota, so it is difficult to see him as much more than depth at this time. The organization, however, probably sees more potential in him than in some of their other depth. He will naturally be compared to Zack Granite.
Both Granite and Cave are 25 and left handed, and have a 45 overall ranking. Both rate highest in their run tool, and weakest in power. Expect Cave to show a little more pop, and little less speed, though. Granite’s run tool is rated at 65, compared to Cave at 55. Conversely, Granite’s power is only ranked at 30, but Cave’s is at 45. Both can and do play all three outfield positions, while being generally considered left fielders. While the Twins could potentially put either on the bench for Opening Day, Granite would be slightly ahead in that regard, having 40 MLB games under his belt and significantly more time in the organization. The Robbie Grossman factor will likely keep both in the minors to start the season, though, as Grossman is the most likely candidate for the fourth outfielder role. The other big thing about Jake Cave is that this is his first season on a 40-man roster, which means he has three options remaining.
If you’re into such things, Cave seems to be pretty active on Twitter, and apparently has a fondness for kids movies and dad jokes. I like him already. His dad is a big Harmon Killebrew fan, and passed that on to Jake, and Jake also is a Michael Cuddyer fan, hailing from the same general area, so Cave is scoring points already.
Welcome to Minnesota Jake!