Jake Cave was born on December 4, 1992, in Hampton, Virginia. He was a standout pitcher at Kecoughtan High School when the New York Yankees selected him in the 6th round of the 2011 June amateur draft. Others selected in this draft include Dante Bichette Jr, Greg Bird, and Daniel Camarena.
Upon signing in August, Cave was sent to the Gulf Coast League where he was placed in center field. Unfortunately, in his very first game, he fractured his kneecap in a collision at home plate. The serious injury required surgery, and many doubted if he would ever be the same.
Cave spent the entire 2012 season on the shelf due to the injury. The time and energy he devoted to rehabbing the knee paid off as he was ready for the 2013 season.
Centerfield for the Charleston RiverDogs was where Cave spent his summer in 2013. He had successfully returned from a devastating knee injury to hit .282/.347/.401. He stole 18 bases out of 27 attempts and struck out 110 times. He ascended to #22 on Baseball America’s Yankees prospects list.
He started the season in Tampa, in 2014, and was promoted to Trenton. Once again, spending the year in center. Combined, he hit .294/.351/.414. He stole 12 bases, but again was successful only 67% of the time. His strikeout total increased to 124. He was named to the Florida State League all-star team for his play in Tampa. After the season, he climbed to #17 on Baseball America’s organizational rankings. He also earned an invitation to spring training the following year.
Cave spent almost the entire season as the Thunder’s center fielder. Late season roster expansion in New York required him to fill in in Scranton. For the year, he hit .278/.339/.359. He was successful on 17 out of 20 stolen base attempts and cut his strikeout total to 106. He was named an Eastern League all-star.
After the season, he was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees did not protect him, and he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds.
Cave was amongst the last players cut by the Reds at the end of spring training. As a Rule 5 selection, he was offered back to Yankees who sent him to Trenton. He started out hot and was promoted to Scranton. For the year, he hit 26 doubles, nine triples, and a career-high eight home runs. He hit a combined.267/.330/.427. The slugging percentage was the highest of his career. He was only successful on 6 of his 13 attempts at stealing. He once again struck out 106 times. He was moved out of center and split time in the corner outfield positions. He helped lead Scranton to win the Governor’s Cup.
In Scranton, last year, the 24-year old was 3.5 years younger than the average player. Pinstriped Prospects has ranked him as the Yankees’ #31 prospect, but the 9th outfielder on the list. He has plus speed. As a former pitcher, Cave still has a very strong arm. He has the skill set to potentially be a 4th outfielder.
Cave was not promoted to the big club last year. He was also not added to the 40-man roster, exposing him once again to the Rule 5 Draft. He was not selected.
This means he will likely return to Scranton. However, the Yankees have an abundance of outfield depth. The result is he is unlikely to be considered for a promotion unless there are several injuries and he is having an outstanding year.
At this point, his best chance to make the big leagues will be a trade to a team that doesn’t have as much high-level talent blocking his path