While the 2018 season will be gladly lost in the dustbin of history for most Twins fans, it will live on fondly in the memory of Jake Cave. It began with disappointment in March, when he was Designated For Assignment (DFA) by the Yankees. A sixth round pick by the Bronx Bombers in 2011, Cave had spent his entire professional career in their organization.
Six days later, the Twins came to the rescue, acquiring Cave for minor league pitcher Luis Gil. Cave remained at Rochester until May 19, when he joined the Twins and made his major league debut that night. The outfielder homered in his first game, but was sent back to Rochester five days later. Cave was recalled on June 9, appeared in four games and was sent back to Triple A on June 14. He returned to the Twins for good on June 26.
Cave’s batting average (.257) and on-base-percentage (.307) don’t impress, but he has shown power, hitting 10 homeruns, 12 doubles and slugging .476 in 230 plate appearances. The 25-year-old’s OPS+ of 109 (100 is average) shows he has been a productive and useful player. Cave and I chatted during the last homestand.
DZ: Well, it’s obviously been a pretty eventful year for you, what are you thinking as the year’s winding down now?
CAVE: I just want to keep going, keep trying to play hard every day. I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity here in the big leagues. Take advantage and show the team what I’m capable of doing. Think I’ve shown some things but still got over a month left. Go out there and keep going man. Just keep going up and swinging it. Playing as hard as I can in the outfield.
DZ: This is like your first real kind of extended run (in the major leagues). You were up and down a few times before. What’s it like when you’re just shuttling back and forth like that?
CAVE: I mean it’s tough but, you know, not really to complain. I mean, being able to play big league baseball there’s nothing to complain about. Those first couple times, obviously I knew there were some people up here that needed to play, I knew I wouldn’t really be able to get up here and stay that long. This last time, this might’ve been a time that I get a chance to stay up here and play, and I have. So, it’s cool.
DZ: Do the coaches talk to you about that at all or do you get any warnings that you might (get sent) down?
CAVE: Not really no…They don’t really warn you about anything, you just know last second.
DZ: You went from the Yankees (organization) to the Twins (organization this spring). What was that whole process like?
CAVE: Yeah, I mean, that was weird. That I was on the Yankees (40-man) roster and then they DFA’d (Designated For Assignment) me. While I was on waivers, I got traded over to the Twins. That was a weird process to switch teams and stuff like that but to be able to stay on the Twins (40-man)roster, and get an opportunity with a team that valued me and wanted to put me in the big leagues, that was a good thing.
DZ: Did you look at it as you have a better opportunity to, play more here, in the big leagues?
CAVE: Oh 100%, yeah.
DZ: You’ve been playing a lot of different outfield positions. Is that something you did coming up in the minor leagues?
CAVE: Yeah. All the time. When I first got drafted by the Yankees I was mostly a center fielder, then I started playing on the left and right to go along with center. Came up here I was playing mostly center and now they’ve been moving me around, I’ve been playing some right lately and I’m fine with it. You know, put on my resume that I can play all three outfield positions in the big leagues, is always a good thing.
DZ: Do you know Tyler Austin well, at all, from (the Yankees organization)?
CAVE: Yeah. He and I are good friends. We’ve played together for five plus years in the Yankees (system) and we’ve remained friends.
DZ: Cool. That’d be exciting then, when you saw him coming over?
CAVE: Yeah. 100%.
DZ: Anybody in the team kind of take you under their wing at all? Any kind of mentors?
CAVE: Yeah. I’ve been learning a lot from Joe (Mauer). You know, just how to go about your stuff everyday as professional and routine and all that kind of thing. To be able to learn from what of the greatest to do it, like Joe, it’s been really cool.
DZ: What’s his style like…?
CAVE: We talk. If I ever have questions I ask him. Sometimes I don’t have questions and he’ll be doing something or some kind of technique or some kind of stretch or getting ready for the game or something and he’ll be like, “Hey Jake, check this out.” That kind of thing. It’s really, really cool.
See more of David Zingler’s 2018 player interviews:
September 5: Max Kepler
September 1: Tyler Austin
August 28: Oliver Drake
August 25: Trevor May
July 26: Lindsay Whalen
June 29: Tanisha Wright
June 8: Logan Morrison
June 4: Mitch Garver
April 17: Brian Dozier
April 15: Ryan LaMarre
April 14: Addison Reed
January 27: Chip Lohmiller