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Culver Controversial No. 1 Draft Choice For Yankees

SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  Team representative of the New York Yankees Gene Michaels and Roy White look on during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07: Team representative of the New York Yankees Gene Michaels and Roy White look on during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

I don't know anything about Cito Culver, except that the New York Yankees took the young man with the 32nd pick of the MLB Draft Monday night. And that the selection has raised eyebrows everywhere, even being referred to as a "stunner."

Travis posted a scouting report on Culver immediately after he was drafted. It indicated that Culver was thought to be a likely third- or fourth-round selection. With that in mind, the Yankees are alternately being praised or bashed for jumping up and grabbing a player they wanted.

"We were able to draft a very athletic kid who can play a good shortstop," said Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees Vice President of Amateur Scouting. "He has a plus arm, is a solid runner and is an excellent hitter. He’s a player we are happy to have. It was an easy decision for us."

Maybe so. But, it's not easy for others to swallow.

Here is AOL Fanhouse's Frankie Piliere.

The New York Yankees had a player they really wanted, regardless of where he was in the draft, and that was Cito Culver, who they picked 32nd overall. It's easy to bash, but teams have a solid feel for signability players who will be available further down the line. Culver was evaluated high on their board and got stellar grades from the MLB Scouting Bureau this spring, grades that could have pushed him into the top 25. This is an example of a club not worrying about public perception and taking the guy scouts evaluated as being best for the organization.

Here is SB Nation's MLB Bonus Baby, giving the pick a thumbs down.

Everyone thought the Yankees would pay out big money, but they went with an in-state unknown that projected to go as many as 3 rounds later.

Baseball America is where the pick was referred to as a "stunner." ESPN's Keith Law likes the pick, even though he called it "one of the biggest surprises of the first round."

Let's just say the folks at Was Watching disagree with Law.

With their first pick in the 2010 draft, the 32nd overall pick, the Yankees selected Cito Culver - probably two or three (or maybe four?) rounds earlier than he should have been selected – passing on talent like Anthony Ranaudo, Bryce Brentz, Ryan LaMarre and Seth Blair (just to name a few).

Considering all this, and then factoring in that the Yankees had screwed up their first three picks in the draft just about every year from 1998 through 2008, I have to wonder about what’s going on in the Yankees front office with respect to handling the draft?   ("What about 2009?" some may say?  Well, the jury is still out on that one.)

At some point, Damon Oppenheimer – and his bosses, Mark Newman and Brian Cashman – have to be held accountable for the way they’ve been wasting the Yankees "prime" picks, draft after draft, no?

I am not going to do an in-depth analysis of the past 10 years of Yankee drafts, but let's just say I think Was Watching's blanket criticism is grossly unfair.

The baseball draft, much more than the NFL draft, is a crap shoot. It is often impossible to truly judge how a high school kid will develop, or how a college players will transition from the world of aluminum bats to pro ball. How often do we see picks in the first round flame out, and guys selected in the 30th or 40th round become stars? In baseball, that is hardly uncommon.

The Yankees have followed a high-risk, high-reward draft philosophy for years now. It's how they got Joba Chamberlain a few years ago, and last season's No. 1 pick, Slade Heathcott. It's also how they got burned by high school pitcher Gerrit Cole a couple of years ago.

In the Yankees' position, I happen to like the philosophy. Face it, very few young players are going to come through the farm system and make lasting contributions to the Yankees. They might as well swing for the fences rather than settle in the draft, looking for those diamonds in the rough they believe could be great.

Do I know the Culver pick will turn out well? Nope, I have no idea. If this is the guy in this draft class the Yankees felt they had to have, then I'm fine with them doing what they felt they needed to in order to grab him. Even if that means taking him earlier than other teams obviously would have.

Truth is, it's likely going to be a few years before we can truly judge whether or not this was a smart move. Or a stupid one.