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Jake Cave came over to the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft in December, but he spent his entire season in the New York Yankees organization. His season got out to about as good of a start as you can for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, going 4-6 with a home run, two runs batted in and two runs scored on opening night. He would carry that through the week, getting a hit in all seven games played in the first week of the season, going 11-25 (.440) with seven walks and three doubles to go along with the home run on opening night. He would slump over the next six games, going 2-19 before finishing out the week by going 3-5 against Portland. That didn’t carry forward into the final week of the season as his slump continued, finishing just 3-19 (.158). That hot first week carried the month for the outfielder, posting a .279/.402/.382 line with 12 walks and 13 strikeouts in 83 plate appearances.
May began on a hot streak just like April did. He would homer in his first game and rack up two hits in each of his first three games. Things slowed down in the final four games, going just 2-15 the rest of the week. That slump carried forward for the first three games of the next week, but from the 12th-14th he would go 7-14 with two walks and a double. That was carried into the next week as Cave went 10-28 (.357) with a double and a triple. From the 22nd through the 27th he would go 8-21 (.381) as he extended his hitting streak to seven games (and hits in 13 of 14). He slowed down over the final few games of the month, but posted a solid .301/.370/.374 line with 13 walks and 21 strikeouts in 140 plate appearances.
Things got out to a slow start in June for the Yankees outfielder who went 1-11 in the first three games, but he picked up steam over the final three games of the week, going 2-4 in each game and mixing in a triple in one of those games. He would extend that hitting streak to six games by racking up hits in the first three games of the next week, but went 1-12 to finish the week. In the third week of June one game carried the week. On the 17th the left handed hitter went 3-4 with two doubles and a walk. In the other four games he would go 3-14 (.214). In the final eight games of the month he went 7-35 (.200), but finished strong by going 4-12 in the last two games with the lone extra-base hit of the entire stretch. For the month he would post a .257/.294/.347 with six walks and 19 strikeouts in 109 plate appearances.
After seemingly busting out of a slump at the end of June, July got out to a strong start as Cave went 11-32 (.344) in the first week with three multi-hit games and eight runs driven in. The quick start didn’t last long as the outfielder went into big slump over the rest of the month. In the remaining 19 games he would go 11-76 (.145) with just one extra base hit. For the month he would post a .205/.244/.223 line with six walks and 24 strikeouts in 120 plate appearances. For the second straight month his walk rate was a shell of what it was in the first two months of the season and his strikeout rate was higher than it was in those months as well.
August got out to a strong start for Jake Cave, going 5-8 with two doubles and a walk in the first two games. He would only go 2-16 the rest of the week though. Things picked up in the second week of the month as he went 11-24 (.458) with a hit in all six games played. His hitting streak would come to an end at six games with an 0-3 first game of the third week, but he would get a hit in the other four games of the week, going 5-18 with two doubles. He would go 0-10 to start the next week, but went 6-15 with a double and a triple the rest of the week. Cave would be promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the final week of the season. In the first five games he would go 3-14, but went nuts in the final two games, going 8-10 with two doubles, a triple and a walk. Over the final five weeks of the season he would hit .336/.388/.464 with 12 doubles and two triples in 140 plate appearances. He walks just nine times and had 29 strikeouts.
His overall season was solid, but unspectacular as he posted a .278/.339/.359 line between his two stops. He was successful on the bases, stealing 17 bases in 20 attempts. His plate discipline stats showed some splits over the course of the season. In April and May he walked 11.2% of the time with a 15.2% strikeout rate, but saw that decline to a 5.7% walk rate with a 19.5% strikeout rate the rest of the season.
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Hitting | Cave could be an average hitter in the future, though his struggles with left handed pitching could hold his overall hit tool back. He can and does use the entire field.
Power | After hitting just two home runs in nearly 600 plate appearances, his current power is well below-average. While there is some room for future power growth, he’s probably going to top out around 10 home runs if his power does develop in the future.
Running | He is an average runner, but he gets good use from average speed on the bases.
Arm | His arm rates out as fringe-average. It can handle both corners, but certainly plays better in left field than in right.
Defense | While Cave has spent time in center, his range is best suited for the corners. He can handle center field if you absolutely need him to, but he’s got below-average range there.
Nothing really stands out for Jake Cave, but only his power really grades out as a true below-average tool in his overall skillset. As a left handed hitter he has had struggles against left handed pitching, something that could limit him to a platoon player in the long run. His profile looks best as a 4th or 5th outfielder type who can come off of the bench in a variety of roles as someone who can probably give you a good at-bat against a right handed pitcher, play solid defense as a late-inning replacement or be a pinch runner who could also rack up some starts against non-left handed pitchers at times. He’s only had three years of development since being drafted in 2011 due to injury, but his Rule 5 status means that he’s only going to get that if he’s going to remain with the Reds as he has to stick to the 25-man roster all season before he could be sent to the minors in 2017 if needed.