If you think about the New York Yankees organization, the position that they have the most depth at is in the outfield. That was before they made the mega-deal to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. One name that can get lost in the shuffle amidst all that depth is Jake Cave.
Cave was selected in the Rule V draft by the Cincinnati Reds in the winter of 2015 but ended up being traded back to New York after taking part in the Reds major league spring training. While he didn’t get his chance to make his major league debut, he found a way to excel in the upper tiers of the organization.
With Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Cave had a slash line of .305/.351/.542 with 20 home runs, 56 RBI’s, and 26 doubles in 103 games. This led him to be named an organizational All-Star by MILB.com for the first time in his career.
Right now, Cave is ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Yankees organization according to MLB Pipeline. While he is not inside their Top 15, he’s the second-best outfield prospect in the system on their rankings behind only Estevan Florial.
Back in 2011, the Yankees selected Cave in the Sixth Round of the MLB Draft out of Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Virginia. He only played in one professional game with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2011 and had to undergo knee surgery, which caused him to miss the 2012 season.
Let’s take a look at how Cave did after the knee surgery, starting with his 2013 campaign with the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs
While with the Riverdogs, Cave had a slash line of .282/.347/.401 with two home runs and 31 RBI’s in 115 games. While he didn’t drive in many runs, he did a lot of other things that helped out the Charleston team.
He was second on the team in hits (131) behind only Greg Bird (132). Also, he was tied for the team lead in stolen bases (18) and led the team in doubles (37). As far as the doubles go, he was tied for third in the entire South Atlantic League in that category.
In the month of May that season, Cave had a pair of four-hit games within a five-day period. On May 15, he went 4-for-5 with a run scored against Savannah. Then, on May 19, he was 4-for-6 with three doubles, a triple, and two runs batted in against Greenville.
The May performances were impressive, but Cave actually had a better second half that season (.299 in 67 games) than he did in the first half (.260 in 48 games).
Cave began the season with High-A Tampa and had good results. In the 90 games that he played in, he had a slash line of .269/.330/.345 with two home runs and 37 RBI’s. In the four months he was with Tampa, he hit no lower than .279 in any given month. This includes the month of May where he hit .336 in 27 games.
While with Tampa, Cave had a pair of 5-hit performances. On April 27, he was 5-for-5 against Lakeland. Then, on June 25, he went 5-for-6 against Clearwater.
On July 17, he played his first game at Double-A Trenton and hit .357 for the first 14 games he was with the Thunder. Out of the 48 hits he had with Trenton that year, 19 of them were for extra bases (ten doubles, five triples, and four home runs). On defense, he made only one error in the outfield.
During the 2015 season, Cave spent the bulk of the year with Trenton (seven games with Scranton). In 125 games at Double-A, he hit .269 with two home runs and 37 RBI’s. The extra-base hits continued as he had 22 doubles (second on the team) and five triples (led the team).
In his five months with the Thunder, he hit above .300 in two of those months (.301 in May and .307 in August). On June 17, Cave had two doubles when he went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI’s against Reading.
At the end of the season, Cave got to go to Triple-A and had a great final two games against Syracuse. He went 8-for-10 with two doubles, a triple, and a RBI in those contests.
While Cave spent a little over a month with Trenton to begin the season, he ended up playing the rest of the year in Scranton. In those 116 games, he had a slash line of .268/.330/.427 with eight home runs and 55 RBI’s. He also had 106 combined strikeouts, which was the exact same number he had in 2015.
If you look solely at his numbers with the Railriders, he had a team-high six triples and was in the top five in both hits and doubles. He had ten three-hit performances combined with both teams.
Before the 2017 season, Cave had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, so that delayed the start of his season. Nevertheless, it was a breakout year for him in terms of his power numbers. He had 20 home runs and a .305 average in 105 games with Trenton and Scranton.
In the 72 games that he played with the Railriders, Cave was tied for the team lead in home runs (15), tied for third in triples (three), and has the highest slugging percentage (.554) of any player who played in more than 40 games.
Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say about Cave.
“While Cave doesn’t have a plus tool, he also doesn’t have a glaring weakness. He has hit for average throughout the Minors, making consistent hard contact and using the entire field.”
As Cave heads into 2018, it appears he will start the season in Scranton as long as he is not traded. But, with New York’s outfield depth, he could be a trade candidate as a team looks for a player with speed, improving power, and has the ability to play all three outfield positions.