The catching depth in the Pittsburgh Pirates system is thin behind top prospect Tony Sanchez. All of the upper level options, including the two currently replacing Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder in the majors, profile more as backups. Eric Fryer might be able to establish himself as a starting prospect, but as of right now, the only potential starting prospect in the system is Sanchez. Right behind Sanchez is a catcher who is putting up a great season at the plate: Ramon Cabrera.
Cabrera signed out of Venezuela in 2008, and spent a year and a half in the VSL. After putting up a .312/.400/.468 line in the VSL in 2009, Cabrera got the rare mid-season promotion to the US. He finished the season in the GCL, with a .291/.372/.417 line in 127 at-bats. Cabrera moved up to West Virginia in 2010, and saw his numbers dip, with a .269/.312/.342 line in 342 at-bats. He did finish strong, with a .295/.344/.398 line in 149 at-bats from July to the end of the season, and was moved up to Bradenton this year as a 21 year old.
So far this season, Cabrera has hit for a .352/.422/.467 line in 227 at-bats. He started off with a strong month of April, hitting for a .396 average and a .944 OPS in 48 at-bats. Cabrera struggled in May, with a .268 average and a .688 OPS. However, since then he’s been on fire, with a .375 average and a 1.016 OPS in June, and a .373 average and an .898 OPS in July. Since the FSL All-Star break, Cabrera is hitting for a .400/.462/.550 line in 80 at-bats.
The big drawback with Cabrera is his size. He’s 5′ 7″, 202 pounds, which raises questions about his durability behind the plate. That listing is three inches shorter than Michael McKenry, and the same weight. The hitting is very encouraging, although he hasn’t hit for much power in his short career. He has great plate patience, with a 20:30 K/BB ratio this season. The caught stealing numbers this year don’t reflect it, but Cabrera has a strong arm behind the plate. The big question for Cabrera will come down to his durability. If he continues to hit, he might find his way to the majors. However, his size might limit him from being more than just a backup, due to durability issues.