There’s now two former Crowder players currently in the Miami Marlins organization after infielder Freilin Cabrera signed as an undrafted free agent Saturday.
Cabrera joins pitcher Mike Kickham, who’s currently at Triple-A New Orleans.
Cabrera enjoyed two outstanding seasons at Crowder and he earned NJCAA Division I All-America second team honors for his sophomore campaign.
During that sophomore season, Cabrera propelled Crowder to a Region 16 title and regional berth with seasonal numbers like a .396 average (89 for 225), 69 runs scored, 19 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 75 RBI, 17 walks and 19 strikeouts, and 32 stolen bases in 37 attempts. Cabrera showed the ability to hit for average and for power — most of his homers seemed to be hit to the opposite field — and to utilize his speed.
As a freshman, Cabrera hit .414 (96-232) with 71 runs scored, 17 doubles, five triples, five homers, 61 RBI, eight walks and 16 strikeouts, and 22 steals in 25 attempts.
Cabrera played on Crowder teams that won a combined 92 games over two seasons.
This past summer, Cabrera played for the Joplin Outlaws of the MINK League and he batted .382 (21-55) in 13 games with nine runs scored, eight doubles, two triples, no homers, 16 RBI, three walks and two strikeouts, and six steals in seven attempts.
Cabrera also joins former Crowder players Elvis Peralta, Kyle MacDonald, and Russ Carver, who were selected in the MLB Draft in June.
The Texas Rangers picked Carver in the 23th round (685th overall), but he did not sign and the Dallas Baptist recruit will take a chance at improving his stock during his junior season.
The Oakland Athletics selected Peralta in the 26th round and he signed on June 10. Through his first 42 pro games, Peralta hit .280 (44-157) with 39 runs scored, eight doubles, one triple, two homers, 16 RBI, 25 walks and 40 strikeouts, and eight steals in 11 attempts. Peralta ranks among Arizona League leaders in runs scored.
Peralta, who earned most outstanding honors for Crowder at the 2017 JUCO World Series, said that he had a premonition that he would be drafted by the A’s.
The New York Yankees picked MacDonald in the 27th round and he signed on June 7. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound slugger returned to the lineup for the first time in a month on Saturday and he collected a pair of hits and one RBI. He’s driven in six runs after his first seven pro games.
— The Tampa Bay Rays preserved their lead in the American League Wild Card race with a 5-3 win Friday over Seattle Mariners.
Former Crowder pitcher Jalen Beeks earned the start — his second of the season — for the Rays and took a no-decision. He allowed one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks over 3 2/3 innings.
Beeks’ role has changed over the course of the season, from long relief to a starter, as injuries have taken a toll on the Rays’ pitching depth.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash wanted five innings Friday from Beeks, but the 5-foot-11, 200-pound southpaw maxed out at 85 pitches and four outs shy of five innings.
“I didn’t do a very good job of getting ahead of guys, in general,” Beeks said. “I can hang my hat that I battled, but just going forward, I’ve just got to get ahead of guys with all three pitches a little better and get in a little better rhythm. I’ve just got to do a better job of being more aggressive and getting in the zone. I mean, that’s the goal from here on out.”
On the season, Beeks owns a 5-1 record with a 3.71 ERA and 65 strikeouts and 30 walks over 80 innings. Beeks’ recent loss against the Boston Red Sox (his former team) ended a streak of wins in his last 10 decisions.
— Denver Post writer Kyle Newman wrote a feature on former Crowder and current Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) slugger Sam Hilliard, detailing Hilliard’s outstanding season, his potential to be called up in September, and his father’s ALS diagnosis in 2018.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about (a call-up),” Hilliard told Newman. “But I’m definitely trying my best to stay level-headed — if I think too much about that, I know that’s only going to affect me in a negative way. Ultimately, it’s something I can’t control, so I’m focused on doing what I’m doing.”
“It’s tough not to be at home when all this stuff’s going on,” Hilliard said about his father. “My dad still comes out to visit, and I see him every other month or so. I’m just trying to be there for him, and balance that and baseball, but it can be hard. He’s doing okay and he’s very strong in his faith. He’s still the same guy — witty, funny. It’s great to not see his personality change at all, so that’s helping us get through it.”
Hilliard has certainly enjoyed the mountain air this season in Albuquerque.
On Friday night, Hilliard knocked his 30th home run and drove in his 91st run of the season. Before Sunday’s game, Hilliard ranked first in both runs scored (95) and RBI (93) in the Pacific Coast League.
The Rockies selected Hilliard in the 15th round in 2015.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Burlington Bees (Los Angeles Angels) reliever Ethan Clark earned his third career save and second this season with his scoreless inning Sunday against the Kane County Cougars (Arizona).
After four games for Burlington, Clark owns a 0-1 record and a 1.42 ERA with one save and 10 strikeouts and five walks over 6 1/3 innings.
Overall, this season, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound righty stands at 0-2 with a 2.92 ERA, two saves in two opportunities, and 33 strikeouts and 16 walks in 24 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay picked Clark in the 15th round in 2015 and in 2017, the Rays sent Clark and outfield prospect Braxton Lee to the Miami Marlins in exchange for shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Strangely enough, both Lee and Hechavarria are in the New York Mets organization.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox (Boston) reliever Andrew Schwaab earned his 47th career save and 10th this season for Salem with his scoreless ninth inning Sunday night against the Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee).
On the season, Schwaab owns a 3-2 record with a 3.60 ERA, 11 saves in 13 opportunities, and 57 strikeouts and 28 walks in 50 innings. Schwaab pitched his first 10 appearances and first 18 innings this season for Double-A Portland in the Eastern League.
Since his demotion to Salem, Schwaab is 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA, 10 saves in 12 opportunities, and 35 strikeouts and 14 walks in 32 innings.
Schwaab became the seventh reliever in the Carolina League this season to reach 10 saves. Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City) reliever Ted Ratliff leads the way with 21 saves.
The Yankees originally signed Schwaab in 2015 as an undrafted free agent and the 6-foot-1, 205-pound righty also played in the Detroit Tigers organization before coming aboard Boston.
— Former Crowder and current Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes (Miami) pitcher Mike Kickham took a loss Friday night against the Reno Aces (Arizona).
Kickham allowed six runs (all earned) on seven hits with two strikeouts and five walks over 3 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound southpaw saw his ERA balloon 51 points from 4.31 to 4.82.
In his 10th professional season, Kickham owns a 3-5 record with a 4.82 ERA and 73 strikeouts and 33 walks over 74 2/3 innings. Kickham has made 28 appearances, including 11 starts.
San Francisco drafted Kickham in the sixth round in 2010 and he reached the majors in 2013 and 2014 with the Giants. He logged a 0-3 record and a 10.98 ERA during the parts of two seasons he played at the highest level.
— The Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) placed former Crowder pitcher Aaron Ashby on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to August 5.
In Ashby’s last start, he allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks over six innings against the Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox).
It had been difficult times lately for Ashby after his fast start in the Carolina League and his loss dropped him to 2-6 overall with a 3.65 ERA and 46 strikeouts and 27 walks over his first 56 2/3 innings for the Mudcats.
In his first two starts with Carolina, Ashby continued his momentum from his time with Single-A Wisconsin, pitching 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 16 strikeouts and three walks. Ashby pitched an one-hitter in his Mudcat debut.
On the season, overall, Ashby owns a 5-10 overall record and a 3.59 ERA with 126 strikeouts and 55 walks over 117 2/3 innings. Ashby, who earned midseason all-star honors for Wisconsin, led the Midwest League in strikeouts before his promotion to Carolina.
The Brewers drafted Ashby in the fourth round (125th overall pick) in 2018 and he’s ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in the Brewers organization.