Rabelo is a switch hitting catcher who made his first appearance of the season on Thursday night, giving Pudge Rodriguez a much-deserved day off. He went 0-4, grounding out 3 times and being victimized by a pop fly once. Rabelo is up with the Tigers while Vance Wilson nurses a fairly serious sounding elbow injury. Rabelo was drafted out of the University of Tampa in the fourth round of the 2001 draft and he looks like a fairly standard backup catcher.
Rabelo started hitting for a bit more power last season, but no Big League pitcher is going to be particularly scared of him. Here's the thing, he's not clueless at the plate, but he's limited in the damage he can do. Coupled with a good glove, that spells a solid backup who is ready now. He his bat slows a bit or if he starts having injury problems, he could fall off the map and never be heard from again or he could have a 10 year career as one of those immortal catchers like Henry Blanco or Mike Difelice. Don't expect a Josh Bard or Dave Ross kind of breakout.
The future for Rabelo involves plenty more time in AAA. The Tigers have Wilson signed to a multi-year contract. Wilson is a little better offensively and he doesn't have options while Rabelo still has plenty of option years remaining. So he'll probably stay on the 40 man roster, but once Wilson gets healthy, he's going back to Toledo. Don't weep for him though, I've pointed it out in the past, but life as a AAA regular isn't that bad. I'd go as far as to say it's a nice gig. He can still expect a high 5 figure/low 6 figure annual paycheck, he gets called up whenever the team wants a 3rd catcher or when somebody gets hurt. And AAA has had a building boom on par with that of the Major Leagues. Teams like Buffalo, Indianapolis, Louisville, Memphis, Fresno, and Toledo have magnificent new parks and get nice crowds. I'd take it.