March 11, 2012; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; A detail of a New York Yankees painted logo on the field for a spring training game between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Should Yankees Make Cito Culver a Pitcher?

Ever since Cito Culver was selected by the Yankees in the 2010 draft, people have been apt to name him as the heir to Derek Jeter‘s throne. However, Culver has been struggling mightily thus far, and could probably benefit from a change.

Tim Wakefield was converted from first baseman to a pitcher in 1988. (Image: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

Culver has spent three seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system, never reaching anything higher than A-level ball. In those seasons, the twenty-year-old has hit a paltry .233 with six home runs and 91 RBIs. He has also gotten 220 hits, and has walked 122 times. These are obviously not very good numbers for a player who is considered to be Jeter’s heir.

The scouting report on Culver tells us that he is a switch-hitter who bats better from the left side. He has too much movement in his swing while batting from the right – thus causing problems. He has a good arm, but only plays average defense. His speed is also nothing noteworthy either, and will probably decrease over time.

The scouting reports also note that Culver is somewhat of a pitcher as well. It is reported that he can throw around 93 mph with some decent control. Considering the fact that he is only 20 years old, the velocity on his fastball would very likely increase.

In fact, it would make sense for the Yankees to convert Culver now because of another shortstop prospect who they have waiting in the wings – 19 year old slugger, Austin Aune.

From the reports, Aune supersedes Culver is nearly every way possible. Aune has a lot of raw power which, as he matures, can be expected to turn into something truly special. His bat work is supposedly excellent, and could probably accumulate many hits too. He also has better speed than Culver, and has around the same defensive ability at shortstop. While Aune has a lot of work to do, he can definitely become a very good player. If he does live up to his potential while playing in the minors, it would no doubt spell the end for Cito Culver — which is why the Yankees must act now if they don’t want to waste a first round draft pick.

“You can never have enough pitching” is a phrase that has become synonymous with the game of baseball these days. With pitchers often getting injured, the need for more is at an all-time high. Converting Culver and using him as a pitcher — which is what I think he was meant to be — can really pay off in the long run. Since Culver seems to be lost as a position player, pitching would be his best option if he wants to get to the Bronx. Simply put, there is absolutely no harm in at least seeing what Culver can do on the mound for an extended period of time.

For those people who are wary of a conversion like this, take the following into consideration.

Tim Wakefield — yes, that Tim Wakefield — was drafted in 1988 by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a first baseman. Wakefield was told by a coach that he simply did not have the tools to succeed as a position player. Wakefield ended up becoming a pitcher, and was very solid throughout the majority of his career. I’m not saying that Cito Culver must develop a knuckleball like Wakefield did, but it just goes to show that a conversion is not impossible.

All in all, the Yankees should definitely convert Culver into a pitcher. He would excel in that role more than he is excelling in his current role as a shortstop. Since he’s still young, Culver can definitely learn to develop some other pitches and work on his velocity. As a pitcher, Culver would have a chance of helping the Yankees down the line. This would be better for him, because he is not working out as a shortstop.

Tags: Cito Culver New York Yankees

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