Elijah Cabell came to FSU as the second-rated outfielder in Florida in the 2018 class and the 34th rated freshmen in the nation. Cabell showed why he was so highly thought of in the beginning of the season, as he hit five homers and posted a .351 batting average through the Seminoles’ first 12 games. After that, the season took a nose dive on Cabell. The freshman started to slump, and could just never find his swing again. Over the next 21 games, Cabell’s average dropped down to .208. The slump led to the outfielder being benched for the stretch run as Tim Becker brought magic to the lineup. The Florida-native finished his freshman year hitting .220 over 58 games.
To me, batting average doesn’t always tell the story in baseball, there were still some positives for Cabell. Despite hitting in the low .200’s, he still produced an on base percentage over .400 and an OPS of .819, both above average numbers. He also was second on the team with nine steals in 10 attempts. 17 of his 36 hits were extra base hits (nine doubles, a triple, and seven homers), and his batting average on balls in play was a ridiculous .473.
So what does he have to do differently in 2020? Put the ball on the bat, plain and simple. Cabell struck out in 53.7% of his at-bats throughout his freshman year. Mike Martin Jr. has emphasized a new-and-improved aggressive approach at the plate, and it may stand with Elijah more than any other player on the team. He’s a fastball hitter, so go hunt fastballs early in the count. Pitchers often took advantage of him with breaking balls low and away and he just couldn’t lay off of them. In 2020, if he can get to fastballs early and not let pitchers attack him there, the strikeout rate will drop and the average will go up. When he puts the bat on the ball, he’s a special player. When he gets on base and in the outfield, he’s a special athlete.
Cabell will be given the same opportunity as last year at the beginning of the season, as an everyday starter hitting in the cleanup spot. Where he plays between center and left is still an ongoing battle between him and Reese Albert, he has the speed and arm strength to play anywhere in the outfield. The most important thing for the sophomore will be getting his confidence back in his swing. He needs to trust that his hands are quick enough to get to a fastball and send it in the opposite direction, instead of getting out in his swing early and not being able to adjust to the fastballs. I think if we see a opposite-field and an aggressive approach from Cabell, it could be a really productive season in his draft-eligible sophomore year.