The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Culver signing official06.18.10

See what happens when you go for a haircut on this beat? You’re 20 minutes late on the draft pick signing news. Buster Olney says Cito Culver signed at slot. Here’s the press release from the team.

The 17-year-old Culver, out of Irondequoit High School in Rochester, N.Y., batted .561 (37-for-66) with 10 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, 38 RBI and 20 walks in 22 regular season games this past season as a high school senior, according to his school’s Web site. He also had a .933 fielding percentage, committing just eight errors in 120 total chances, helping lead his school to the Monroe County Division title. Named his team’s most valuable player in each of the last three seasons, Culver was also a three-time all-county selection and an Under Armour All-American.

Last summer, Culver played on the Yankees’ Area Code team, working out at Yankee Stadium and participating in a tournament in California. Baseball America rated the shortstop as the third-best prospect out of the state of New York. Under his high school bio page, Culver lists his favorite baseball team as the New York Yankees and one of his favorite baseball players as Derek Jeter.

“We are very excited to get Cito signed so quickly and get him out on the field to begin his development as a Major League prospect,” said Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees Vice President of Amateur Scouting.

Culver was just the second high school shortstop drafted by the Yankees (also C.J. Henry in 2005) in the first round since the organization selected Derek Jeter with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft. 

Also, in case you missed it, the Yankees have signed utility man Eric Bruntlett to a minor league deal. He started at third base for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last night. He’s never hit much in the big leagues, but Bruntlett can play everywhere and there are certainly much worse backup backups out there.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 521 Comments →

Report: Culver has reached agreement06.16.10

According to Kevin Levine-Flandrup, covering the draft for Pinstripes Plus, the Yankees have reached an agreement with first-round pick Cito Culver. Levine-Flandrup sites a source he spoke to this morning who says the deal is done pending a physical and Culver’s graduation.

In minor league news a little closer to New York, after outfielder David Winfree was released last night, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees sent infielder Matt Cusick to Trenton, apparently to open a spot for a minor league free agent.

Can’t help wondering how much longer it will be before Scranton makes another move, sending a player to New York to replace Chad Moeller.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 653 Comments →

Culver backs out of Maryland06.16.10

As if there needed to be another indication that first-round pick Cito Culver plans to sign with the Yankees, the young shortstop sent a pretty clear signal this week.

According to my old friend Jim Mandelaro, Culver has backed out of his commitment to the University of Maryland and will travel to the Yankees minor league complex tonight. It’s a three-day visit, and Culver told Mandelaro that he’s not sure what’s on the schedule other than a physical.

By my count, that leaves only two steps: Agreeing on money and finding a working ink pen. I like the Pilot G-2, but whatever’s handy should work.

Culver can’t officially sign until the graduates from high school. That’s happening on Sunday.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 640 Comments →

The one who probably won’t get away06.09.10

Yankees first-round pick Cito Culver was supposed to be on a conference call with the media at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. It was pushed back to 4:30 because Culver was getting a tuxedo for the senior ball at his high school. He and a friend picked out a pinstriped version, and there was disappointment in his voice when he told the New York writers that the pinstripes are black, not blue.

“I’ve been working for this all my life,” Culver said. “And to go 32 overall to my favorite team, and the team I’ve been growing up watching, and the team my family has followed for years now, it was an awesome feeling. It was unreal.”

Two years ago, the Yankees drafted a high school kid who didn’t sign. That doesn’t seem likely in this case. Culver has advisors working for him, and so he naturally didn’t rule out the idea of sticking to his commitment to the University of Maryland, but there was a sense that he simply couldn’t help himself.

“I think that I just can’t wait to be a Yankee,” he said.

WHY HE PLAYS BASEBALL: “My whole family grew up playing baseball. If you didn’t play baseball in my family you were pretty much exiled from the family. It’s something that ran in the family, and when you have a lot of cousins like I do – I have a ton of cousins – they’re all playing baseball and you’re going to play with them. It’s just something that grew on me.”

WHAT KIND OF PLAYER HE IS: “Switch hitter. Love to hit. Love to hit from both sides. I’m a pretty good runner. My best asset I think is my arm strength. I think I have good feet in the infield, know how to get myself in good position to take a ground ball and make an accurate throw.”

WHAT POSITION HE EXPECTS TO PLAY: “I see myself as a shortstop. That’s the position I played growing up, throughout my whole life. Once a shortstop always a shortstop, but I’m open to do whatever the team needs to do to get the win.”

WHAT HE EXPECTED ON MONDAY: “I wasn’t really sure to be honest. I knew a couple of teams were interested in me. Did I know I’d go 32 overall? No I didn’t. When I was called, I was very grateful and just honored to be able to begin and finish off my career being a Yankee.”

WHY DEREK JETER IS HIS FAVORITE PLAYER: “I just love the way he plays the game. He goes hard every time. The best part about his game to me is when he hits a ground ball, he runs it out hard every time. You can expect that from him, just giving his best effort every time. That’s something I want to resemble when I get older, playing as hard as he did. He’s one of the best that’s ever played the game.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 497 Comments →

What the Yankees see in Cito Culver06.08.10

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.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 699 Comments →

“He definitely, 100 percent, jumps out at you”06.08.10

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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 174 Comments →

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