The Tigers made their first move of the winter meetings today when they acquired minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera from the Pirates in exchange for left-handed pitcher Andy Oliver. Cabrera batted .278 with a .343 on-base percentage and 39/44 BB/K ratio in 428 plate appearances mostly with Double-A Altoona in 2012. The 23-year-old Venezuelan had an impressive .343/.410/.473 line in 92 games for High Single-A Bradenton in 2011.
According to the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook (the link points to the 2013 book so you won't make the mistake of buying last year's book), "Cabrera slashes line drives to the gaps from both sides of the plate". The five-foot-eight 195-pound switch hitter makes good contact and is tough to strikeout but lacks power and has just 13 home runs in over 1,600 professional plate appearances.
Baseball America says that "Cabrera is agile behind the plate and moves surprisingly well on the bases. He also has a good feel for calling a game." His arm is not great as he threw out just 20% of base runners attempting to steal last year. On a positive note, his passed balls decreased from 14 in 2011 to 5 in 2012.
Mark Anderson of TigsTown tweeted that Cabrera will provide competition for Bryan Holaday in 2013. Jason Beck reports that he is not a candidate to back up next year. Which one is right? I suspect both may be right, because I still expect the Tigers to add an experienced major league receiver to be the primary backup.
Oliver was one of the top prospects in the Tigers system a couple of years ago, but has battled control problems in both the minors and majors. He posted a 4.88 ERA and walked 88 batters in just 118 innings for Triple-A Toledo in 2012. He had a 7.11 ERA in seven starts for the Tigers in 2010-2011.