If you liked Casey Kotchman, then you’ll love Melky Cabrera.
Other than the fact that Melky is a league average defensive outfielder whereas Casey is a good defensive first baseman, the two players have very similar skill sets. The batting approach of Cabrera, like Kotchman, consists of taking a decent number of walks (8% BB rate in ‘09), making contact at an excellent rate (88% contact rate in ‘09), and hitting an extremely high number of ground balls (50% GB rate in ’09).
It’s hard to generate much power when 50% of the balls you put in play are driven into the ground. This deficiency has dimmed the futures of prospects ranging from Delmon Young to Mark Teahen.
That said, Cabrera is just one skill away from turning into a productive major league batter. Melky will be 25 going into the season, so he’s still in the growth stage of his career. It’s not inconceivable that he could start lifting and driving some of these balls as he approaches his peak seasons.
If he doesn’t improve with the bat, he’s little more than a fourth outfielder who could be a nice defensive substitute for Nate McLouth in the late innings.