Jake Cave is headed back to the Yankees after an offseason audition with Cincinnati.
The Reds returned the 23-year-old outfielder to New York on Tuesday after selecting him this past December in the Rule 5 Draft, according to multiple reports. Per rules of the Draft, the Reds would have had to add Cave to their 25-man Major League roster or offer him back to New York.
The Yankees, who drafted Cave in 2011, accepted the offer and reportedly sent the left-handed outfielder to Double-A Trenton. He's expected to be in Trenton's Opening Day lineup on Thursday.
Cincinnati designated Cave for assignment on Sunday after taking a long, hard look at the outfielder in Spring Training. Cave hit .255 with a homer, five RBIs, eight walks and 12 strikeouts in 55 at-bats over 26 exhibition games but lost the fifth outfielder job to Tyler Holt. The Reds, who made Cave the No. 2 pick in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10, had to offer him back to New York after he cleared waivers on Monday.
Cave was ranked by MLB.com as the Reds' No. 19 prospect entering 2016. He was considered the Yankees' No. 16 prospect at the time of the Rule 5 Draft.
The Virginia native spent most of last season at Trenton, hitting .269 with two homers and 37 RBIs in 125 games before finishing the year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he went 11-for-24 in seven games. His best season to date came in 2014, when he hit .294 with seven homers and 42 RBIs -- all career highs -- for Trenton and Class A Advanced Tampa.
Cave somewhat comically gained some internet fame during Spring Training when he entered a game on March 16 as a pinch-hitter without a name or number on his jersey.