Mike Newman on Cito Culver

Game 108: Can they make it seven straight?
Calderon homers twice in GCL loss

The Yankees made Cito Culver a surprise first round pick in 2010, and the 19-year-old shortstop hasn’t exactly justified their faith in him yet. He does lead the farm system in walks (60), but otherwise he’s hit just .222/.330/.297 (80 wRC+) in 444 plate appearances for Low-A Charleston this season. Over at FanGraphs, Mike Newman provided a scouting report after seeing Cito recently and as you probably suspect, it’s not all that positive. He notes that Culver is solid on defense but can’t really hit, particularly from the left side of the plate.

Newman does make a case for converting the Rochester native into a pitcher — he was 92-93 off the mound in high school — but I’m not sure I’m on board with that. Culver can still play shortstop and there’s value in that, plus he shows plate discipline and a solid approach at the plate. Perhaps some more physical development leads to more production at the plate. Hitter-to-pitcher conversions aren’t the most uncommon thing in the world, even after long layoffs. Another year like this and I’ll probably be singing a different tune. Here are Newman’s scouting reports on Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, and Angelo Gumbs.

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Game 108: Can they make it seven straight?
Calderon homers twice in GCL loss
  • RetroRob

    I think he said Culver is weak from the leftside. I’m not on board with him converting to a relief pitcher either. Way too early. He can do that at 24, not 19. I do think he should abandon switch hitting from what I’ve read and just focus on hitting from his stronger side.

    • Carl LaFong

      They should just let him play & continue to let him switch-hit. If he can play shortstop well, that’s huge. Something could click & he’ll hit enough to make it all worth while. Patience!!!

  • Richard Leo

    it is too early to give up on a young SS like Culver

  • Will The Thrill

    Sigh. Mike Olt, Nick Castellanos, and Taijuan Walker were all drafted after Culver. Great scouting Yankees! Cito Culver is just another bust in the collection of first round busts the Yankees have drafted these past couple of years. Brackman, Bleich, Heathcott, Culver, and Bichette all busts considering they were first rounders. I’m really starting to doubt Damon Oppenheimer and the scouting department. Yeah they draft some interesting guys in the late rounds but what about first round guys who can help us in 1-2 years? They really make safe picks considering they are one of the teams with the biggest payrolls.

    It feels like all is riding on Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams to validate the scouting and drafting of the Yankees. It feels like our team should be flush with young impact players but it features a few interesting guys who are so far away from the show that they’re wild cards.

    • pat

      I suppose people will never get tired of writing these.

      • The Ghost of Joe Dugan

        Especially considering most that write them aren’t sharp enough to realize that Bleich and Bichette weren’t 1st round picks.

    • Fernando

      The majority of first round picks don’t make it. There are teams that pick earlier and have terrible records of picking players, yet people love to criticize the Oppenheimer picks. His record over the whole draft has been much better than just looking at round one.

      There are few guys drafted in the first round that are going to help you in 1-2 years…and those chances are even less when you draft as late as the Yankees.

      By the way, Sanchez was an international signing so his performance won’t mean anything on the amateur draft success.

    • Fernando

      First round picks are not guaranteed to help and few of them are ever going to help in 1-2 years. Expecting the Yankees to find one of those rare guys in the late first round is just not fair. And judging the draft by one round instead of for all 40 rounds is also unfair. Who cares where you find players, as long as you find players?

      As for pinning the success of the draft on Sanchez and Mason doesn’t make much sense, especially since Ssanchez wasn’t even a draft pick but an international signing.

      Blackman and Bleich have been failures, but it’s too early to call the others (Culver, Heathcott and Bichette) flops.

      • Fernando

        Sorry for the duplicate thought/post.

      • Tremont

        I agree with your point here, but I think we’re getting mighty close to calling Culver a bust. When our greatest hopes for a guy two years removed from being a 1st rounder are that he becomes a utility guy in 3 years, that’s kind of a bust.

    • RetroRob

      Sigh.

      That sums up your entire post.

    • CP

      Have you looked at the Yankee drafts before Oppenheimer took over?

    • DERP

      I’m really starting to doubt your ability to ever contribute anything to this blog.

    • Tremont

      It’s really hard to tell if you are serious. I suggest you take a random sampling of 27th to 51st picks in the past 6 drafts and see what percentage of them are or appear likely to be good major league players.

      I happen to think that you’re right about Culver. But he has nothing to do with any of the other picks.

    • Stop sniffing glue

      Will the thrill = poster child for pro abortion

    • Bob Buttons the Cat

      DRob – 17th round
      Gardner – 3rd round
      AJax – 8th round (It’s reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t put up similar numbers in NYS)
      Montero – a bit less than 2 mil out of Venezuela
      Banuelos – a guy whom we signed when we scouted Aceves

      Draftees in the past couple of years: Montgomery, Chase Whitley, Nik Turley, just to name a few.

      And other names such as Warren, Phelps, Hughes, Joba (even though they were overhyped a lot), IPK, Tabata (had disciplinary problems but not performance outside of that trade year), etc.

      Wow, all we got is Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams. Damn our barren farm system. A shame that we went safe and picked low-ceiling low risk guys like Cole, Heathcott, Brackman and Bichette.

    • Adayoff

      Brackman. He signed with Cincinnati as a free agent in 2012, having been on the NYY 40 man roster for all these years. Cincinnati started him out at AAA Louisville and then demoted him nonstop, all the way down to A+ Ball in Bakersfield. Poor guy is back to fundamentals.

  • forensic

    Can’t we just call him Ramiro Culver yet?

    • http://www.bronxbaseballdaily.com Greg Corcoran

      Haha love this comment. Seriously though I don’t think Culver is a representation of the failures by the Yankees. Shortstops who can really hit are REALLY hard to find.

      One thing Culver doesn’t get enough credit for IMO is his speed. Also, he has been hitting closer to .270 for the past month or so, indicating that he has made some sort of adjustment. With his speed and his ability to get on base and defend solidly, I don’t think the low average is as much of a problem. Especially when you consider what he’s done for the past month.

  • Rich in NJ

    Maybe they need to look at how they are developing him?

    • dan

      This post sounds like you’re suggesting the Yankees change their philosophy on how people should hit a baseball. I don’t think anybody’s made any groundbreaking discoveries on the science of hitting that we just haven’t heard about.

  • Smart Guy

    i remember that draft wanting bryce brentz or nick castellanos

  • WHIPitcher

    Sigh do you think you can just link directly to fangraphs instead of trying to artificially inflate your site hits, I’ve seen this done here a bit too many times before and it’s getting annoying.

    • sabes

      +1

    • Pete

      Mike Silva, is that you?

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Hate to say I agree. When I saw him play a week’s worth of games in late May, the best comp that came to mind was Bobby Meacham…but to be clear, I am not a scout and don’t claim to be one.

    • JohnnyC

      Neither is Mike Newman. But if you played some college ball at some point you can claim to be one as well.

  • Phil

    Look, I’m a little disappointed as well, but I don’t think most of you guys realize he’s 19!! He’s still young for his level and has been rushed a bit so just give him a chance before you decide he’s a bust.

    And to people that say Bichette is a bust; SERIOUSLY?! If we started him out in State Island he’d be raking and everyone would be in love with him like they were last year, but since the Yankees decided to challenge him by putting him in Charleston in his first full year out of high school, he is a bust since he isn’t hitting .300.