29. Wander Cabrera (144 points, 19 ballots)
When the Rockies traded Rex Brothers after the 2015 season, the return of Wander Cabrera seemed fair given that Brothers had spent much of the year in Triple-A and had just been designated for assignment. Cabrera had signed with Chicago in 2014 for $250k and had just polished off a promising professional debut season (2.34 ERA, 10 K/9 split between the bullpen and the rotation).
Fast forward a year and the trade looks far from fair—for the Cubs (not that they mind much). Brothers didn’t make the team and Cabrera followed up his debut with a similarly impressive repeat season in the Dominican Summer League. In 2016 against players on average 1.1 years younger than him, the 19 year-old lefty threw 51 1/3 innings across 12 starts (he was 18 all season). In that time, Cabrera posted a 2.63 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 9.5 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9.
It’s important to note that the DSL is a strong pitcher’s league that suppresses power, so those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt—and arguably Cabrera’s rotation mate Gabriel Estrada had a stronger year. With that said, Cabrera seems ripe for a stateside debut next year in either Boise or Grand Junction. In 2016 the Rockies loaded up their Boise rotation with DSL graduates making their stateside debut, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cabrera jumped up to that level in 2017.
The pedigree created by the signing bonus and trade, combined with solid performance against older players, makes Cabrera an interesting prospect to follow when short season leagues begin next year. I left Cabrera off my personal list because his performance/pedigree combo wasn’t quite potent enough to overcome just how raw and far away he is from contributing. Cabrera isn’t on the national prospect radar yet, but a strong stateside debut might just change that.