Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6' 0", Weight: 200 lb.
Jake Cave was born on December 4, 1992 in Hampton, Virginia. In 2011 the Yankees drafted Cave straight out of high school, and that season he appeared in one game for New York's Gulf Coast League team. In that game he went 0-1 with a walk giving him the rare .000/.500/.000 slash line for the season (small sample size blah blah blah). There's a reason he only played in one game during 2011: In his debut he fractured his kneecap on a collision at home plate.
Following surgery, Cave made his way to spring training in 2012. His knee pain returned, which Caitlin Rogers notes it was a "bone fragment from his kneecap," and he underwent surgery once again. This surgery cost Cave the entire 2012 season.
Finally in 2013, the then 20 year-old Cave was able to play baseball again. He spent the entire season in Charleston (single A), and played in 115 games. In his return year he hit .282/.347/.401 to go along with 2 HR, 31 RBI, and 18 SB.
The Yankees must have been happy with his development because the following season (2014) he made his way to Tampa (A+) and Trenton (AA). While his average dropped slightly he was still able to slash .273/.344/.455 during his time in New Jersey. At this point some began comparing Cave to then Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.
Last season was more of the same from Cave. He spent the bulk of his year at Trenton, and received a late season call up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Several Yankees analysts pegged him as a future starter in New York's outfield based on his "above average defense" and "above average speed." In January of 2015 Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs ranked Cave as the #14 prospect in the Yankees system. He noted that a Yankees official felt that there was "a little Colby Rasmus to Cave's game."
Cincinnati acquired Cave in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft.
Pitch F/X Profile
Well this is embarrassing. Since Cave has only played in 7 games above AA Brooks Baseball doesn't have any information on him yet.
So here is a video of him hitting a home run for AA Trenton.
Numberless Jake Cave Won't Conform to Your Societal Norms
The next few weeks could be dicey for Cave. As a Rule 5 pick he has to be kept on the Reds 25-man roster this season. If the Reds elect not to keep him, then he must be offered back to the Yankees for $25,000. With Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce regularly manning two outfield positions that leaves one position for a number of young players vying for playing time.
In Neil Weinberg's projections for Reds' left fielders, he expects Schebler, Duvall, and Winker to get the bulk of the plate appearances in 2016. However, one thing working against Scott Schebler is that he still has options remaining. Cave can't be sent down as a Rule 5 pick, and fellow outfielder Yorman Rodriguez is out of options.
This will likely lead to one of two scenarios. Either the Reds will send Schebler down and keep Cave and Rodriguez on the 25-man roster, or they could elect to choose between Cave and Rodriguez. Regardless, Adam Duvall appears to have the inside track on the starting LF job, and to start the season Cave would likely be an option off the bench.
One of the factors helping Cave is that his natural position is center field. With Billy Hamilton's recent injury history you can expect Cincinnati to keep a backup or two available at the position. Tucker Blair (Baseball Prospectus) noted in his scouting report on Cave that he will likely be a fourth outfielder in the majors. However, he also mentions that Cave can play "an average center field." This is definitely a skill the Reds could be interested in for 2016 and beyond. Plus, if they're willing to hang on to him past this season, they can then send him down if he needs more time at AAA.
While you shouldn't expect to see a lot of Cave this season, there is a decent chance he sticks on the 25-man roster. Occasionally he might get a start in LF. You could see him play some CF if Hamilton aggravates an old injury. Cincinnati might use his above average speed as a pinch runner in some situations. While Cave won't blow anyone away, he has enough skills to be a useful piece on a major league roster this season.