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09/20/09 1:29 PM EST

Cabrera's rookie campaign elicits praise

Shortstop impresses Padres with offensive results

PITTSBURGH -- The odds that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera will win the National League Rookie of the Year Award are pretty slim.

But Cabrera, who debuted in the Major Leagues as a member of the Padres' Opening Day roster in April, merits consideration.

Cabrera, 22, is hitting .269 and has started every game since returning from the disabled list on June 19. He missed 53 games after breaking the hook of his hamate bone on April 19.

At that time, two weeks into the season, the Padres had settled on the Rule-5 draftee out of the Colorado system as their regular shortstop. Nothing that has happened since June 19 has changed their minds.

Padres bench coach Ted Simmons, who has been in baseball as a player, a coach, a scout and a front-office executive, likes what he sees in Cabrera.

"That kid's going to be a real, real nice player," Simmons said. "I say Ozzie Smith, I say Larry Bowa, I say Omar Vizquel, I saw those three play and they all came up and they could not hit. When they were 21 and 22 years old, basically they could not carry the bat and hit the ball with authority, not any one of those three.

"This kid's 22 years old and he slams the ball already, and he'll tell you that Rafael Furcal is his idol. Well it's a very, very good mix or good connection, because Furcal came up here and had strength. This kid has strength, he can hit the ball in the gap and get a triple right now, and those three that I mentioned before, [while] they were defensively top notch, they couldn't hit until they became fully matured -- 27 or 28 years old. This kid is ready to hit the ball now and hit it hard."

Entering action on Sunday, Cabrera has hit safely in each of his last four games going 8-for-18 (.444). He has reached base safely in each of his last 15 games, going 17-for-61 (.279) with a .362 on-base percentage. The switch-hitting Cabrera is batting .271 with runners in scoring position this season and has swiped 24 bases in 30 attempts.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.