• Yanks Select Christopher “Cito” Culver In 1st Round Of 2010 Draft

    Posted by on June 7th, 2010 · Comments (25)

    The Yanks selected Christopher “Cito Culver, SS, West Irondequoit (Rochester, NY) High School with the 32nd and final pick of the first round.

    I’d love to give you guys a nice writeup from Baseball America or Keith Law or even John Sickels but, alas, I wasn’t able to find anything.  I suppose that should sum up the kind of reach this pick was, especially with some of the talent that was sitting there.

    I’ll reserve judgment for a later date and will give this kid a chance to earn his ‘stripes but my first reaction is definitely disappointment.

    Update #1 (10:41 p.m.): This comes from Baseball America’s writeup for prospects in New York State which had Culver as the #3 ranked prospect in NYS:

    Cito Culver, ss
    Irondequoit HS, Rochester, N.Y.

    Hidden away in upstate New York—hardly a baseball hotbed—Culver sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the rare Northeast prep product with a legitimate chance to play shortstop in the major leagues. Culver’s best tool is his arm, which rates as a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Some scouts report seeing him up to 94 mph off the mound, but he has no interest in pitching. The game comes easily to Culver, whose actions, instincts and range are all plus at times, though he has a long way to go to become a consistent defender, and some believe he profiles as a utility player down the road. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Culver is a solid-average runner and a switch-hitter with a loose, whippy swing from both sides of the plate. He projects to have below-average power and is mostly a slap hitter, but he does generate good bat speed and could be an average hitter as he gets stronger. Culver is an excellent athlete who plays basketball in the winter, and he could take off once he focuses on baseball. He could be drafted in the fourth- to sixth-round range, but he is considered a difficult sign away from his Maryland commitment.

    The good stuff here is the arm, the bat speed and the athleticism.  The bad stuff here, obviously, is that people perceived him as available in the mid-rounds scheduled for tomorrow or Wednesday.  Plus, if he’s got such a strong commitment to Maryland, does that mean the Yankees have to buy him away from the Terrapins at over-slot for a questionable first rounder?

    I feel marginally better about the pick although I still really would’ve pissed my pants for Castellanos or a pitcher.

    Update #2 (2:05 p.m. (the following day)): Keith Law had this to say about the Culver pick:

    [Q]: Can you make a case FOR the Yankees drafting Culver where they did?
    [KLAW]: Not really, no. I know some teams that had him on the fringes of their second-round boards, but this still feels like a reach to me.

    [Q]: What was the reason behind the Yankees taking Cito Culver with their first round pick?
    [KLAW]: They loved his makeup, knew the kid inside and out, scouted him extremely heavily, and felt that he’s a switch-hitting shortstop with a plus arm and a chance for average or slightly above-average power. I don’t quite share that optimism, based not so much on my own notes from seeing him last summer but more on what other teams are telling me.

    [Q}: I’m starting to come around on Culver after buying some spin. Is there something to be said for the Yankees knowing this kid better than other teams’ scouts because of his location? I don’t know what to think of this.
    [KLAW]: Just following up – I have never liked the take-the-local-kid philosophy. That’s how the Pirates ended up with Neil Walker. Sometimes it works, and if you’re the Angels or Braves the local kid is often pretty good, but that can’t be your primary rationale for taking a player if you’re north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    [Q]: Doesn’t the Yankees-Culver situation show the folly in being unable to trade picks? They loved the kid, but heard he wouldn’t last to 82. Rather than trade down to the 50′s and pickup another pick, they needed to choose between reaching for him or not getting him at all. Might have been the wrong choice, but it seems silly that you cant trade down.
    [KLAW]: Excellent argument.

    This K-Law chat stuff is just food for thought.  Keith Law is a good scout and a good writer but he’s by no means the alpha and omega of player evaluation or draft strategy.  If he were, he’d be earning big bucks in a front office so we should all take his excellent work with a teensy, tiny grain of salt.

    Comments on Yanks Select Christopher “Cito” Culver In 1st Round Of 2010 Draft

    1. YankCrank
      June 7th, 2010 | 10:13 pm

      I really don’t know what to say either, seeing as I know nothing about him and he’s only 17.

      Take this for what you will, I guess. The people who don’t like the work of Cashman and Oppenheimer will slam it, the people who trust them can take a wait-and-see approach.

      As of now, like I said, don’t know what to say.

    2. June 7th, 2010 | 10:15 pm

      Via BBA Blog:

      Once again, this wasn’t a consensus first-rounder. Need more proof? Cito Culver ranked No. 168 on our board, but Culver had athleticism, plus tools to play shortstop and good infield actions, and the Yankees popped him at No. 32.

      The Yankees usually go for shortstops and middle-of-the-diamond players internationally, but they have hit the catcher spot hard in the draft and have drafted plenty of middle infielders in recent years, such as David Adams, Corban Joseph and Carmen Angelini. The first two picks could still work out, but Angelini got $1 million as a 10th-round pick in 2007 and has yet to stick in full-season ball.

      From Aaron Fitt’s draft report:

      “The game comes easily to Culver, whose actions, instincts and range are all plus at times, though he has a long way to go to become a consistent defender, and some believe he profiles as a utility player down the road. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Culver is a solid-average runner and a switch-hitter with a loose, whippy swing from both sides of the plate.”

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/?p=2377

    3. June 7th, 2010 | 10:25 pm

      In his HS league here’s what Culver threw up there: .561/.633/1.273 in 90PAs…. 20/2 BB/K 33R 38RBI 9HR 5 3B 10 2B.

      Granted, upstate New York high schools aren’t exactly the hotbeds that Georgia, Florida or California are.

    4. MikeSilva
      June 7th, 2010 | 10:29 pm

      Steve

      Not much on this kid, but John Klima (who will be on a special edition of my show) offered up some tidbits that you can check out, along with video

      http://nybaseballdigest.com/?p=25601

    5. June 7th, 2010 | 10:32 pm

      HS stats are bogus because 70% of the pitchers and hitters that these kids face are not very talented. If you’re going to scout a HS kid, you look at his PA against the other “great” HS players, mano a mano, and see how he did in those spots.

    6. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2010 | 10:33 pm

      What gets me isn’t so much the reach on this pick because, after all, he’ll sign for slot (or less) and we’ll throw all the draft money at other players (including international signings) later on.

      No, what gets me is how textbook perfect the BoSox played it with Brentz/Ranaudo or the Jays taking Wojo from Citadel or the Tigers taking Castellanos.

      Ranaudo may not have been the right play for the Yanks but why not take Castellanos — considered one of the best bats in the entire draft — or a polished college arm like Wojo’s?

      Project middle infielders that are at least four years away really don’t add much value to a farm system that needed a quick-shot infusion of talent. Most assuredly, Cito Culver won’t be in the top half of next winter’s Yankees top-10 list, if he’s even in the top-10 at all.

      I don’t want to say that I don’t like this pick but I’m definitely underwhelmed and surprised. The Yankees don’t draft poorly but they certainly don’t draft well and, honestly, I can’t understand why.

    7. Scout
      June 7th, 2010 | 10:34 pm

      My view is simple: he would have been there in a later round. The Yanks could have had him in the third or later. I’ll concede he may be a very good player, but the Yanks could have had Culver and Castallanos. I like to give Oppenheimer the benefit of the doubt, but I am increasingly less sure exactly what he’s done to deserve such a high reputation. Does it all rest on 2006?

    8. June 7th, 2010 | 10:39 pm

      I don’t disagree… but to paraphrase the great Crash Davis: the guy hit .561 in upstate New York. That’s a career… in any league.

    9. June 7th, 2010 | 10:39 pm

      The Yankees announced Culver as a right handed pitcher? This true.

      FWIW, Culver has got a full ride at Maryland – so, the Yankees are going to have to buy that from him.

    10. June 7th, 2010 | 10:41 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yankees don’t draft poorly but they certainly don’t draft well and, honestly, I can’t understand why.

      The buck stops her…well, you know where it stops…if you choose to allow it to stop where it deserves to stop.

    11. June 7th, 2010 | 10:42 pm

      Scout wrote:

      My view is simple: he would have been there in a later round. The Yanks could have had him in the third or later.

      One man’s simple is another man’s dead solid perfect and spot on take.

    12. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2010 | 10:54 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      The buck stops her…well, you know where it stops…if you choose to allow it to stop where it deserves to stop

      Even thought it’s your site, I’m going to politely ask you to not hijack this post with your usual rantings on a subject that, frankly, are logically inconsistent and pretty much wrong. Thanks.

    13. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:03 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Just to be clear, I didn’t mean for that to come out as harshly as it did. I’d just rather we keep the focus on the draft instead of devolving into the ten millionth iteration of why “Cashman sucks.” The draft is supposed to be a fun and exciting part of the baseball season so if this pick was indeed awful — and I’m by no means saying that — I’d still rather we just debate the pick on its merits rather than just plucking the same tunes over and over again.

      Thanks, and apologies if I ruffled any feathers.

    14. Raf
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:06 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      If you’re going to scout a HS kid, you look at his PA against the other “great” HS players, mano a mano, and see how he did in those spots.

      Actually, you look at the tools that he has, how they perform on the field (hitting, throwing, running, etc), given that there aren’t many “great” HS players

    15. Raf
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:08 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yankees don’t draft poorly but they certainly don’t draft well and, honestly, I can’t understand why.

      Because the Yanks don’t need to draft well. I can’t understand it either, but that’s the way it has been forever; they just don’t utilize the draft the way other teams do.

    16. Raf
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:14 pm

      Also, is it me, or do the Yanks draft a lot of HS players?

    17. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:15 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Because the Yanks don’t need to draft well. I can’t understand it either, but that’s the way it has been forever; they just don’t utilize the draft the way other teams do.

      Not needing to is still no excuse for not drafting well. I agree, the Yanks don’t have to draft well in order to be successful. But it’s still totally illogical and counter-intuitive to do something poorly that, if done well, is only beneficial to the franchise.

      It’s just inexplicable why drafting isn’t something the Yanks can do as competently as Boston or Tampa.

    18. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:16 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Also, is it me, or do the Yanks draft a lot of HS players?

      So do the Braves. I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon for some teams to prefer HS players. The issue is simply being good enough at developing the more raw (but oftentimes higher ceiling) talent.

    19. Corey Italiano
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:16 pm

      Hey maybe they know something we don’t, no? There IS that possibility…

    20. Corey Italiano
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:18 pm

      Via chad jennings :

      “Last summer, Culver played on the Yankees’ Area Code team, working out at Yankee Stadium and participating in a tournament in California. ”

      Sounds like they might know what he’s about.

    21. Garcia
      June 7th, 2010 | 11:44 pm

      Remember when Delmon Young was going to be the greatest player ever? Or how about Mark Prior? B

      I don’t think there’s any real science to drafting a major league player. People may like to think there is, but I just don’t see the “science”, you can use all the analytcal tools in your arsenal, but predictive analysis is a pipe dream when it comes to scouting.

      That said, let’s pick up this topic in 2013, enough time will have elapsed by then to see how he’s developed and if he was truly a bust or a star.

      For some perspective, here’s baseball America’s top 15 from 2005:
      1.JOE MAUER – Estrella, Star, in any language.
      2.FELIX HERNANDEZ – Not called King Felix for nothing
      3.DELMON YOUNG – Serviceable major leaguer, not a star
      4.IAN STEWART – Serviceable, not a star.
      5.JOEL GUZMAN – Who?
      6.CASEY KOTCHMAN – Sucks!
      7.SCOTT KAZMIR – Injury risk, Al Leiter was right.
      8.RICKIE WEEKS – 7 Seasons .247/.350/.417, utility player? Yes!
      9.ANDY MARTE – All Hype
      10.HANLEY RAMIREZ – STAR!
      11.LASTINGS MILLEDGE – Better rapper than hitter, and he sucks as a rapper.
      12.DALLAS McPHERSON – Dallas Green is a better hitter
      13.MATT CAIN – #2 Starter
      14.JEFF FRANCOEUR – Blah
      15.PRINCE FIELDER – very good player

    22. June 7th, 2010 | 11:58 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      I’d still rather we just debate the pick on its merits rather than just plucking the same tunes over and over again.

      How can you debate the pick while ignoring the management team that made it?

      That’s like saying “Let’s talk about this sucky Guy Ritchie film on its merits without talking about how many sucky movies Guy Ritchie has made…”

      Or, to put it another way, it’s how Guy Ritchie’s mother likes to talk about Guy Ritchie movies…

    23. June 8th, 2010 | 12:02 am

      Jeremy Bleich, Cito Culver…

      Damon Oppenheimer is building himself one heckuva over-draft legacy…

    24. Raf
      June 8th, 2010 | 12:17 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      But it’s still totally illogical and counter-intuitive to do something poorly that, if done well, is only beneficial to the franchise.

      It’s just inexplicable why drafting isn’t something the Yanks can do as competently as Boston or Tampa.

      I don’t know why either, but the Yankees having poor drafts isn’t a recent phenomenon. And it’s not like they choose the best player available with their picks, they choose projects or toolsy players, or risks with upside.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      How can you debate the pick while ignoring the management team that made it?

      Because as mentioned before, the Yanks drafting lousy precedes the current regime. Check out the Yankees draft history, there are far more busts than productive players.

    25. Evan3457
      June 8th, 2010 | 1:12 am

      I have to confess; this pick is completely baffling.

      The only way a reach like this is justified is if two conditions hold:

      1) You’re absolutely convinced this is the best player on the board at the time, and

      2) You’re absolutely certain that he’s not going to be there when you make your next selection.

      It is extremely unlikely, then, that this was the best pick that could’ve been made, because he was completely unrated at this level by just about everyone.

      I suppose, if they intend to commit large $$$ for over-slot players in later rounds, this can be justified. But the presumption must be against it until that happens.

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