2010 Draft: Yankees’ First Round Pick

Photo Credit: MLB.com

With their first pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, the Yankees selected shortstop Cito Culver from Irondequoit High School in Rochester, New York.

Scouting Report
If there’s one thing we know about scouting director Damon Oppenehimer, it’s that he loves up-the-middle high school athletes, and that certainly describes Culver. Standing 6-foot-2 and checking in at 175 lbs., Culver has premium athletic ability that will allow him to stay at short long-term and also opens up the possibility of a move to centerfield. His foot speed is good, and his defensive abilities are all very good except for his arm, which is a true cannon.

At the plate, the switch-hitting Culver generates good bat speed with an easy swing, though his power is mostly into the gaps and he’s a little bit better from the left side. He has lots of room for growth and has a chance to develop into a top of the line defender at a premium position with an average or better bat down the road. There are some reports of a troubled home life regarding his parents but not Cito himself. He’s committed to Maryland but is considered signable if taken high enough, which he certainly was.

Here’s some video via Baseball Beginnings.

My Take
I’m not a big fan of the pick; it’s definitely a reach. For what it’s worth, Oppenheimer called it an “easy decision.” Whenever a guy’s best tool is his throwing arm … well it’s always a cause for concern because you’d like the other skills to be refined. It’s not an indefensible pick though; there’s nothing wrong with selecting a premium up-the-middle athlete that will stay there for the next decade-plus.

I’ve seen some people quick to dub this another C.J. Henry pick, but the only similarities between the two are that they’re African American shortstops taken out of high school. Henry was more of a hacker who projected to hit for power but not average, and wasn’t guaranteed to stay at short. Culver’s basically the opposite.

There were definitely better players on the board, and so it’s not the best pick they could have made. No need to declare this one a bust yet. The last thing prospects provide is instant gratification. Frankie Piliere noted that Culver got huge grades late in the year, so he peaked at the right time.

Heathcott gets back in the swing of things in a loss

Hector Noesi is your Double-A Eastern League Pitcher of the Week while Zoilo Almonte, Luke Murton, and Ryan Flannery will participate in the Low-A South Atlantic League All Star Game. Corban Joseph and Jose Ramirez got hosed.

Here’s a roundup of the night’s action, bullet pointed because of the draft. Double-A Trenton had a scheduled day off.

Yanks draft Cito Culver in the first round

Surprising just about everyone, the Yankees selected Cito Culver, a high schooler out of the Rochester, New York, area, with their first round draft pick tonight. While Bud Selig announced Culver as a short stop, the Yankees’ PR team initially called him a right-handed pitcher but later clarified Culver as a short stop. Scouts believe Culver’s value lies at short.

Interestingly, Culver was projected to go in the fourth-to-sixth round range, and his choice is certainly raising some eyebrows among Yankee-watchers. Here’s MLB.com’s draft profile:

Culver is a switch-hitter who’s better from the left side of the plate, showing more bat speed from that side. He has some gap-to-gap power right now. He looks like he should have above-average speed, but his run times haven’t been great and he’s better underway. At times, scouts have questions [sic] his effort level on the field, though they don’t question his natural gifts. He has the tools, especially his arm strength, to perhaps stay at shortstop, though a move to center field would make some sense. He has a Maryland commitment, but there was some buzz that he’d be willing to forego that for the right price.

Mike will have a full player profile ready to go shortly, and I’m left wondering if the Yanks aimed low in the first round to go after a few signability guys in the later rounds. Remember, though, that Culver was born on August 26, 1992. He won’t turn 18 until after the signing date, and it’s nearly impossible to know now what he ceiling will be.

It’s An Off Day Open Thread

Of course the big story of the night is MLB’s annual amateur draft, and I recommend scrolling down and joining in on my liveblog if you have any interest. If you don’t care about the draft, join in anyway. I guarantee you’ll love it.

For those of you that want to talk about something else, use this open thread. It’s a really sad night for sports, the only you’ve got is the Padres at the Phillies on ESPN. Talk about whatever you want here, just be cool.

2010 Draft: Day One LiveBlog

Tonight’s draft broadcast will begin at 7pm ET on MLB Network (simulcast on MLB.com), and from the looks of things, it’ll last about three hours. It’ll be preceded by an hour long preview show featuring all of MLB.com’s head honchos and Jim Callis of Baseball America. A total of 50 picks will be made today, covering the first and supplemental first rounds. The Yankees will be making just one pick (32nd overall) tonight while the Angels lead the way with five.

Use this as your open thread to talk about all things draft. We’ll have a open thread along a little bit later on for you to talk whatever else your heart desires. Please follow our ground rules and keep your conversations in the appropriate places. Thanks in advance.

2010 Draft: Baseball Prospectus’ Mock Draft v2.0

Okay, let’s squeeze one more mock in before the draft begins. Kevin Goldstein has the Yankees’ taking West Virginia infielder Jedd Gyorko (sub. req’d) in the first round, who’s done nothing but hit since stepping on campus (.404-.471-.674 with a 75-92 K/BB ratio during his college career). While the bat is legit, the downside is that Gyorko doesn’t really have a position. He played short for the Mountaineers, but at best he’ll be a slow second baseman, more likely a fringy third baseman or leftfielder in the big leagues.

It would be a pretty conservative first round pick, something that reeks of the Yanks’ 1999-2003 draft strategy.

The five ahead of No. 2 in 1992

Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/AP

The 1991 New York Yankees went 71-91, finished 5th in the American League East and earned themselves the sixth pick of the 1992 Amateur Draft. With that pick, they took a high school short stop out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, named Derek Jeter. From the first round of that draft, only Jeter, Jason Kendall and supplemental round pick Johnny Damon are still active, and Jeter’s five World Series rings are tops among his peers.

This weekend, on the eve of the 2010 draft in which the Yanks, World Series champs with the best 2009 record in baseball, have the 32nd pick, Tyler Kepner took a look back at 1992, and his piece is an excellent work of long-form sports reporting. Kepner used his own Wayback Machine — in this case the cachet of The Times — to track down those participants in the draft who let Jeter slip through their fingers. Who were those five men picked ahead of Jeter?

The first choice that year was Phil Nevin out of Cal State-Fullerton by the Astros. The Indians took Paul Shuey, a reliever, with the second pick while the Expos selected B.J. Wallace due to the cost. Wallace signed for nearly $250,000 less than Jeter. Jeffrey Hammonds landed in Baltimore, and Chad Mottola went to the Reds. Mottola would play 59 games in the Majors while Jeter is at 2194 and counting.

In his piece, Kepner gets in touch with everyone involved in those first five picks. He quizzes then-Expos GM Dan Duquette for his draft pick motivation and talks to Shuey about his current fishing hobbies. Both Hammon and Nevin, sluggers during the height of a home run-happy era, defend their careers. Derek Jeter they were not, but the two both bummed around the Bigs for a combined 2100 games.

“Every time I’m approached about the draft, they talk to me like I was a flop because I wasn’t as successful as Derek Jeter,” Nevin said to Kepner. “But I’d hardly call my career a flop. I’m very proud of what I was able to do. I had a heck of a lot of fun and did a lot of good things in my life because of baseball. The draft just meant I got to go play.”

The interesting — if obvious — story comes from Mottola, the flameout of the bunch. Drafted out of the University of Central Florida, Mottola signed for $400,000 as the Guy Before Derek Jeter. He now coaches at AAA and rues the way he approached the game but for all the wrong reasons. “The only thing I regret is not taking steroids, as bad as it sounds,” he said. “I’m not mad at them. I’m more mad at the system that allowed it to happen. Maybe if I had done it, I’d be living the way they’re living. But I know the way I played, and I’m not bitter at all.”

As Kepner concludes, these five players were from five teams who thought they had found someone better than Derek Jeter. As Derek keeps marching toward 3000 hits, toward Cooperstown, toward perhaps another World Series ring or two, those five teams are still looking for their first World Series win since that 1992 draft. This year, Bryce Harper is the clear-cut number one talent, but the risk of another Derek Jeter waiting in the wings always looms large. In a risk-averse sport, the draft is a crapshoot. Just ask Dan Duquette and B.J. Wallace about that.