Speedy Cabrera Bolts Through SAL




DENVER—Initially, the Rockies thought second baseman Everth Cabrera would begin the 2008 season at extended spring training, recovering from a high left ankle sprain that caused him to miss the final month of 2007 at short-season Tri-City.

That severe injury didn't necessitate a late start for Cabrera this year. He spent the entire season at low Class A Asheville and with 73 stolen bases in 89 attempts, the switch-hitting Cabrera emphatically showed he had no lingering problems with his ankle.

In his first full professional season, Cabrera, the Tourists' primary leadoff man, hit .284/.361/.399 in 121 games, but the full measure of Cabrera's worth includes solid instincts that can't be quantified.

"He creates ways to win games, and he was consistent with that," Asheville manager Joe Mikulik said.

Cabrera, who turns 22 on Nov. 17 and is from Nicaragua, enhanced his value this year by getting increased opportunities to play shortstop in the second half of the season and doing well.

"He's proven that he can play shortstop," Mikulik said. "He's got a strong enough arm and range. Defensively, he was good, stayed consistent pretty much all year."
Rockies special assistant Walt Weiss, a former shortstop, likens Cabrera to a young Rafael Furcal. The switch-hitting Furcal was a rookie shortstop with Atlanta in 2000, Weiss' final season with the Braves.

Like a lot of young hitters, Cabrera's swing can get a little long at times.

"We were trying to get him to stay back a little bit and just use his hands and create a line drive, hard hit ground balls," Mikulik said. "That's what he was trying to work on and when he did that, he was really effective and didn't strike out as much."
Cabrera finished with 101 strikeouts in 479 at-bats.

"I think his strikeouts were a little high for that type of leadoff guy," Mikulik said, "but I think he's going to be more patient. He did work the counts some, but I think he can do a better job at that."

ROCKY ROADS

• Switch-hitting infielder Corey Wimberly underwent surgery in late September to have the broken hamate bone removed in his right hand. He finished the year batting righthanded at Double-A Tulsa where he hit .291/.370/.345 with 59 stolen bases.

• The Rockies' instructional league schedule included nine games with the Diamondbacks, the last at Chase Field.