The Yankees' first round pick in 2010 was a bit of a puzzling one. That first round pick, of course, was a local kid out of Rochester, Cito Culver. According to Baseball America, Culver was ranked as the 168th best draft prospect, but the Yankees took him with their 32nd overall pick anyway. It has been a pretty long road, but on Monday, the shortstop was finally promoted to High-A Tampa.
In that same Baseball America post from the 2010 draft, Culver was said to have the "athleticism, plus tools to play shortstop and (has) good infield actions" on defense. The offense, however, was and is a different story, "(he has) a loose, whippy swing from both sides of the plate" who may end up just as a utility player if he ever reaches the big leagues. Those reports from three years ago sound pretty similar to what Culver is now: a good defensive shortstop with a pretty below-average bat. In terms of the below-average bat, Culver has posted a batting line of .232/.319/.320 in 351 career minor league games with an OPS never being higher than .680 in any of his four seasons in the organization. The defense, though, is there; he can make crazy plays at short just like this one.
Again, despite the defense at shortstop, Culver simply has not put it together with the bat. The 2013 season was his second in Low-A Charleston, yet he hit .232/.312/.344 in 104 games. Considering his career-long struggles at the plate, the now former switch hitter dropped switch hitting and has focused clearly batting from the right side of the plate. There really hasn't been too much of a drastic platoon split as a result; he's hitting .227/.312/.340 against righties and .248/.309/.356 against lefties, batting solely from the right side of the dish.
It's also not like Culver got hot for a couple weeks to earn the promotion to High-A. He hit .239/.293/.272 with just one extra-base hit in his final 23 games with the RiverDogs. No matter how you look at it, Culver's struggles with the bat are pretty alarming. Even last year around this time, scout Mike Newman suggested the Yankees would benefit by making him transition back to the mound "sooner rather than later." Remember, Culver hit 92-94 mph off the mound before he got drafted. I'm not sure if they'll make the move just yet, but you have to wonder if they ever will considering we're dealing with someone who has a career MiLB OPS of just .638 in over 1,500 career plate attempts. Either way, it's nice to finally see Cito reach Tampa, even if it may be just a courtesy promotion.