Mike Newman over at FanGraphs has a scouting report on the Yankees 2010 first round draft pick, 19-year-old shortstop Cito Culver, and from what it sounds like they might be better off moving him to the mound rather than bank on him becoming a future shortstop in the Bronx.
Newman’s scouting report has the typical info – Culver is solid on defense with average range, but a strong arm that makes up for it. He shows improvement in the errors category, he’s a slap hitter from the left side and too much movement from the right side. He has good to average speed that may decrese over time.
But this is that part that sticks out:
So what’s wrong with Culver? Maybe nothing as a scout I crossed paths with in Auburn, New York mentioned seeing him quite a bit as an amateur and considered Culver a better bet to reach the major leagues as a pitcher than position player. In hearing he popped the mitt at 92-94 MPH as an amateur, one has to wonder if the Yankees would consider pulling the plug on Culver the shortstop in favor of Culver the relief pitcher…
…If Culver still has 92-94 MPH off of a mound in his arm, it would benefit the Yankees organization to make a move sooner rather than later. There may be value to salvage there, but it’s probably not as a position player. Sure, prospect followers may point to his age (19) as a reason to be patient with Culver. I’d use that same age to justify why a move to the mound should be made over the winter. The younger a prospect is, the more time he has to figure it out. Had Cito Culver not been a former first round pick, I would have labeled him a non-prospect and moved onto other players on the Charleston roster. Due to draft status, he will be afforded a much longer leash than a player of his true talent level probably deserves.
So far there has been no word on whether or not the Yankees are even considering this, but it is interesting. For the record, I do like Culver still and there are reasons to get behind him. His patience at the plate is outstanding for a young hitter and if his defense and speed improve, rather than regress as Newman suggests, then he has great tools to be a major leaguer. The thing is, he’s going to have to start hitting eventually.
It is possible that his bat will come around. It is often harder to teach the things that Culver already has than to teach him how to hit. Honestly, it sounds like his biggest short comings are fixable. Just look at Curtis Granderson – the way Newman describes Culver at the plate sounds similar to pre-Kevin Long, Granderson. Sure he has problems, but they are fixable.
My guess is that the Yankees would give Culver at least one more year at short before seriously considering a move to the mound. If other scouts are mentioning this though then there is a solid chance the Yankees’ scouts are seeing the same thing. So perhaps this is something they are already considering and we just haven’t gotten word yet.
It is interesting to think about and certainly tempting given how young he still is. Something for the Yankees to think about.