"He severed pretty much everything you can sever in your arm."
Those were the words of San Francisco Giants Vice President and Assistant General Manager Bobby Evans in November of 2013, speaking to Andrew Baggarly about then 17-year-old Dominican prospect Gustavo Cabrera. The comment was in reference to a horrific injury the outfielder allegedly suffered on Oct. 22 at his home in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
The story, first broke by Ben Badler of Baseball America, detailed a "gruesome" and "graphic" injury sustained when Cabrera fell into either a glass window or table, nearly resulting in him losing his right hand. Cabrera, for obvious reasons, missed all of the 2014 season, returning only to participate in the MLB Instructional League in October.
Cabrera, now 19, is back at Giants minor league camp playing in intrasquad games while competing for a roster spot on one of four full-season squads in 2015, and Evans says his recovery has been remarkable.
"This guy is an overcomer," Evans said of Cabrera. "He basically almost lost his hand but by the miracle of some very good doctors, not only in the Dominican Republic, but also specialists here [in San Francisco], he's got feeling in all of his fingers and he's back on the field."
Cabrera, a 6'2", 190-pound outfielder, was San Francisco's top international signing in 2012. At 1.3 million, he was the largest mark, financially speaking, the Giants had made in the international spectrum since 2009 when outfielder Rafael Rodriguez was inked for 2.55 million.
"He's full-go. No restrictions," Evans said. "There's still scar tissue and things he is going to have to get through to get back to form, but he's fully recovered in the sense that there are no lingering issues."
Cabrera played left field in an intrasquad game on Monday afternoon, batting in the five-spot in the lineup for the "Low-A" team, which also featured notable international prospects Mikey Edie and Kelvin Beltre.
Playing for the Dominican Summer League team in 2013 prior to the injury, Cabrera was expected to join the AZL squad for the following season. He posted a .247/379/.360 line in 229 plate appearances with the DSL Giants in 2013, which doesn't necessarily reflect what scouts call a potential four-tool prospect. Cabrera is most known for his plus-plus speed, good bat speed, and raw power.
It remains to be seen whether Cabrera will secure a roster spot with the Giants' Low-A affiliate Augusta GreenJackets, as Monday's intrasquad game was only the camp's third. But Evans noted that if Cabrera were to break camp in Augusta, it "would be huge accomplishment." Spring Training games against opposing teams will begin Wednesday, allowing for bubble players to further strengthen their case to make a full-season squad.
"No matter how it ends, it's a great story," Evans said. "Hopefully there is a lot more in the tank for him."
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