SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yordy Cabrera has been waiting all week on the Phoenix Desert Dogs bench for his new uniform to arrive. With MIAMI finally written across his chest last week, his smile is contagious.
Its like a dream coming true, the former University of Miami commit said in the visitors dugout at Surprise. Ive always wanted to go to Miami. God is giving me another opportunity to go.
The Marlins acquired the 22-year-old infielder from Oakland in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With the Desert Dogs, Cabrera is trying to prove what he is capable of. He is batting .296 through six games, although he has yet to draw a walk and had struck out seven times.
Cabreras father, Basilio, is a minor-league manager with the Detroit Tigers organization and has played a big role in his sons development both on and off the field.
The younger Cabrera didnt post big numbers in his first two seasons in the minors, with a .230 average through 166 games with Burlington (Vt.) and Stockton (Calif.).
I didnt know what struggle looked like until my first year in the minor leagues, he said. I saw a lot of good pitching, and I struggled to recognize some pitches. [My dad] told me to relax, to take it one day at a time and one at-bat at a time.
Cabrera was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and moved to Florida when he was 14. He remembers telling his dad that he wanted to go to Miami. Basilio told him he had a long way to go. Yordy couldnt speak English, let alone read or write it.
I remember he used to make me read every single night. He would sit next to me and try to teach me as much as he could in English: how to read, how to pronounce things, the right words, the infielder said. By my sophomore year, I was pretty much fluent in English, and I was doing everything on my own. Whenever I was confused, I was going to him.
The second-round draft picks perspective is one that gives him a unique place in baseball. Hes able to recognize the struggles of Latin American players, while relating to the educational experiences of the American players.
The difference between the Dominican and here is a lot. Most of the guys over there are hungry, Cabrera said, explaining what it was like growing up on the island.
In the Dominican, all you do is baseball. Sometimes you dont even go to school just to do baseball. [In the United States] you have an opportunity to get an education, and with an education you can play whatever you like in order to get whatever you want.
When he was traded, Cabrera remained on the same squad in Arizona. He played shortstop for the Athletics organization at Class A Advanced Stockton, but hes seeing a lot of action at third base this fall.
Hes prepared to play any position where he can get the job done for his team.
Im just going to let my skill play. Im sure Im going to have a good season. Im going to prepare myself for it, he said, noting that he spent too much time worrying about the numbers in his first years of pro ball. Im going to have a lot of fun, too. They need to be ready for that.