Mauricio Cabrera cleared waivers and was outrighted Wednesday to Triple-A Gwinnett, two days after the Braves designated the hard-throwing reliever for assignment.
It would have been unimaginable for the right-hander flamethrower to have cleared waivers a year ago at this time, after Cabrera routinely reached 100 mph and higher with his fastball in 41 appearances for the Braves as a rookie in 2016. But his control, a concern even when he was effective in 2016, went completely awry in 2017 when Cabrera posted a 7.12 ERA in 40 appearances at three minor league levels and had more walks than strikeouts.
He’ll stay in major league spring training despite being outrighted from the 40-man roster.
“The kid’s got some work to do,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He kind of got off the rails last year and fought some things, and we’re not going to give up on him. An arm like that, we’ve got to keep working with him, doing what’s best for him, because he needs some work.”
Cabrera recorded 45 walks and 38 strikeouts in 43 innings in his 40 minor league appearances in 2017 and never sniffed the majors. This after recording 67 strikeouts with 41 walks in 72 combined innings in 2016, including 25 appearances in Double-A, before racking up 32 strikeouts with 19 walks in 38 1/3 innings after a promotion directly to the majors.
He was penciled in for a setup role entering 2017 spring training, but Cabrera began the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation that cropped up in spring training. When he began pitching in the minors, he just wasn’t the same guy as before and couldn’t throw strikes with any consistency.
“He got a little slow start, had the injury last year, and never really got it back,” Snitker said. “We can kind of slow it down for him and let these (coaches) get their hands on him and hopefully get him back where he was two years ago when the season ended, which was pretty good.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com