The Express caught up with Cal Poly’s Cole Cabrera this week as part of our Alumni Update series presented by Lakeland University.
A 2019 alumni, Cabrera had a record-setting season with the Express earning a place in both Eau Claire’s single-season and single-game record books. Cabrera is among the top-ten single-season leaders in slugging percentage (.463), second in stolen bases (31) and on-base percentage (.514), and leads the team in single-season walks (61) as well as walks in a game (5).
Take a peek below to hear from the fan-favorite himself on the start of his season with Cal Poly, his time with the Express, and what advice he has for future NWL players.
Cole Cabrera – Cal Poly Q/A
Eau Claire Express: How did the beginning of the season start for you and Cal Poly?
Cole Cabrera: To begin the 2020 season, we (Cal Poly) started off hot. We had opening day in Arizona at the Colorado Rockies spring training complex, against some of the premier teams the country in the MLB4 Tournament sponsored by Major League Baseball. We knocked off the defending national champion Vanderbilt Commodes which was no doubt the highlight of our shortened 2020 season. We continued that success for more close nail-biting wins in the next weeks, including some thrilling extra-inning wins.
ECE: What was it like coming to Eau Claire and what were your favorite moments with the team?
CC: Out of all my years of playing summer baseball, I can easily say playing in Eau Claire was the best summer of my life. My teammates, coaches, and especially my host family, the Swartos family, made my experience in the Midwest such a memorable one.
My favorite moments had to be hanging out with my teammates off the field; we were such a close team and that’s a rare find in summer ball. I also just loved playing baseball with the boys every day, going to Milwaukee Burger Company after games with the guys, and grinding our way to Traverse City for the Northwoods Championship Game.
ECE: The Express and Cal Poly have had a connection for a long time. What was it like having your teammates around you night to night and having Cal Poly guys come through Eau Claire prior to you?
CC: Having teammates in summer ball really make the transition to summer baseball, and your chemistry within the team, that much easier. I was fortunate to have a few of my teammates from Cal Poly there with me in Eau Claire, including one of my roommates in college, Dylan Villalobos. Our head coach Larry Lee and Dale Varsho have a great relationship, as to why Dale keeps getting mustangs year after year. It’s fascinating to find out who came before you and the type of talented players who come through Eau Claire, players that even end up making it to the big leagues.
ECE: What are you most looking forward to when baseball begins again?
CC: I’m most looking forward to playing baseball every day whenever that may be. I’m looking forward to everything, especially the little things. Hitting batting practice every day, playing catch down the line. I think every baseball player misses those things. Most above all I miss competing with my guys and being able to go out there and ball out.
ECE: What have you been up to keep busy?
CC: Online classes just began for us, so that is what I have been doing lately. I have been hanging out with my family, working out, hitting, just doing the regular. I have also been playing a lot of Call of Duty, that seems to be the trend right now.
ECE: What advice would you have for new players coming into the Northwoods League?
CC: Use the Rawlings 318, you will not find a better wood bat in all of summer baseball. The Northwoods League is a grind, you play every day, the days are long, but you must appreciate your time out in the Midwest. Summer baseball is for getting your work in, getting better, and trying new things. Work on something you usually would not work on during the regular season. Grind at something every day, and turn that hole in your game, to an asset in your game.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 230 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (DET). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.