Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bullpen Banter on Cito Culver

If you're interested in Cito Culver, Yankees prospects, prospects in general, scouting, or really anything related to analyzing a player, I strongly suggest that you check out this piece, authored by Al Skorupa. Within this piece, Skorupa breaks down Culver's background, physicality, defense (in terms of glovework and arm strength and accuracy), and batting (bat speed, swing mechanics, and so forth), and offers some sentiment as to what his development path may be.

I suggest you read the post in its entirety, but I'll provide a few of the quotes that I found noteworthy.
Defensively, Culver's best asset is his arm. The raw arm strength is at least a 6 but its diminished by a slingy throwing motion from a low arm slot. His throws have good natural carry, which is not surprising since he did pitch in high school.
The general scouting scale is 2 to 8 (or 20 to 80), with a 5 (or 50) being the Major League average. A grade of 6 is considered above-average, though not necessarily All-Star caliber.
Culver does not have the quickest feet and his footwork definitely needs polish. In fact, the biggest issue with his glove is that I don't think he'll end up much more than an average runner.

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Overall, I'm inclined to think Culver can stick at shortstop and in time be near average in the majors.
An average defender at short has a fair bit of value - particularly with a passable bat...
The best attribute offensively is his plus bat speed. He has a busy swing right now but since he's 18 I'm inclined to view that as having room to improve and tone down his swing with further pro coaching. He has a line drive swing plane and I do think he should hit for some gap power eventually. Culver gets good extension out front and drives the ball naturally but isn't strong enough to make much of the balls he drives. As he gets stronger, gets better squaring balls up and learns to recognize pitches to drive he should be sending doubles out to the gaps.
While that's not a glowing endorsement, it's certainly a positive. At such a young age nothing is really set in stone, but bat speed is something that cannot really be taught.
While I'm still not a fan of drafting him with the 32nd overall pick, Culver is a solid up the middle prospect. Switch hitting shortstops with plus bat speed don't grow on trees. Culver is still a project and lacks a high ceiling, but he's a legitimate prospect most teams would be happy to have in their organization.

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