What the Yankees see in Cito Culver • 06.08.10
Granted, you wouldn’t expect Damon Oppenheimer to say bad things about his first-round draft pick, but the Yankees put their money where their mouth is by drafting Cito Culver with the 32nd pick last night. It’s clear they believe in this kid, and they’ve seen him enough to have a pretty informed opinion. Among the scouts sent to watch Culver was Bill Livesey, who was the Yankees scouting director the year Derek Jeter was drafted.
In the words of Oppenheimer, here’s a quick scouting report on the latest Yankees prospect.
BAT: “Switch hitter. We like him from both sides of the plate. An above average hitter. He has pop in his bat, even with wood. It’s high school, but he’s hitting the ball over the fence in center field with a heavier wood bat than most of these kids we see using. The kid only struck out twice. We saw him all summer against the better stuff, guys throwing hard, and he squared the ball up well during that time so we think he’s going to hit. We think there’s a chance for power too.”
GLOVE: “You always keep your mind open, but his tools and his ability were what attracted us as a shortstop. You never know how long it will take for a guy to get there, and what’s in front of him when he does get there, but I think the fact that he’s in the middle of the field right now, we project him to be a shortstop. Worst-case scenario, if somebody was there blocking his way, you’re talking about a switch hitter that can run and do some other things, it would allow him (to change positions) if you need to.”
ARM: “He has a great arm. He’s up to 95 on the mound, but the idea of being able to get a switch-hitting shortstop is more attractive right now than a thrower, which is really what he is as a pitcher.”
MAKEUP: “He’s a no-nonsense kid. He’s a yes sir, no sir kid. He’s very solid. He’s not going to come out and be real emotional one way or the other. He’s a very solid kid who’s really passionate toward baseball. He’s a good person. We feel he’s a high-character kid. We watched him play real hard, so we felt real good about his makeup.”
SIGNABILITY: “He really wants to be a Yankee. I think that we’re going to get him. We should get him signed and get him out playing really soon. This guy really has a passion to make it through the minor leagues and play in New York.”
The Yankees seemed to go off the board with their first-round pick last night. Cito Culver did not seem to be on anyone’s mind except Damon Oppenheimer, who called it “an easy decision.”
“I didn’t know what to do,” Culver told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “My legs gave out, I just fell. I love the Yankees.”
Culver hasn’t had the easiest path. His father is in prison for arson and other charges, and Culver has apparently used baseball and basketball as a release from what could not possibly have been an easy situation.
“He definitely, 100 percent, jumps out at you when you see him field and throw a baseball,” an opposing coach told the Rochester newspaper. “You would say ‘Wow.’ He’s that good, that kind of player… I tell you what, he’s the most-regarded position player from around here in a long, long time, in terms of being able to make it at the next level.”
Culver has committed to play at Maryland, but the Yankees will obviously try to convince him to turn pro. It’s worth noting that Culver played on the Yankees’ Area Code team last summer and worked out at Yankee Stadium. The rest of us might not know much about him, but you can bet the Yankees have seen him plenty of times and made the choice for a reason.