Cito Culver didn’t get down on himself when the Yankees left him off of the 40-man roster. According to Jim Mandelero of Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle, the young shortstop prospect, who was selected right out of high school at 32nd overall in the 2010 June Amateur Draft, was immediately made available to other teams for the Rule 5 Draft but wasn’t picked up. This will keep Culver in the Yankees farm system for the upcoming season.
The 22-year-old Culver is considered to be the Yankees top defensive infield prospect according to Baseball America. His real problem right now however, is how poorly he’s been swinging the bat.
Playing for Single-A Tampa last season, Culver hit only .220 with an on-base percentage of .298 and struck out 141 times in only 132 games. Through five seasons of minor league ball, he’s hitting only .233 with an on-base percentage of .316 and has 491 strikeouts in 499 games.
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Now, it’s worth noting that being left off of the 40-man roster does not mean Culver doesn’t have a chance to make it in the majors. It’s been done before, and the Yankees could really benefit from Culver’s improvement. Even with the addition of Didi Gregorius, the retirement of Derek Jeter has left the Yanks feeling extremely lacking at the shortstop position.
Culver doesn’t turn 23 until August, so he has time to turn his career around. But when a player hasn’t shown any ability to hit in Single-A ball, how much faith can you really have that he’ll ever be ready for the bigs? He hasn’t been able to post any higher than a .250 batting average. And in 2013 and 2014 combined, he struck out 279 times over only 252 games. These are Single-A games.
I don’t see a future for this kid in the majors, and I’d bet the Yankees are starting to feel the same way.