Since you are reading a Yankees prospect site chances are you probably already know just how much criticism the Yankees received for drafting Cito Culver in the first round of the 2010 draft. And for the most part that criticism was deserved; it’s hard to imagine that Culver has met the Yankees front offices expectations. With that said, we’re here to review his 2016 season, which was surprisingly somewhat decent.
Culver began the 2016 season in AA, which is also where he spent most of his 2015 season (106 games). When a prospect repeats a level you should expect a big jump in production, and to Culver’s credit his performance did improve. Culver went from posting an abysmal 51 wRC+ in 2015 to an 88 wRC+ in 2016. Beyond wRC+, Culver posted the following AA stats, .309 wOBA, .314 OBP, .358 SLG, 27.9 K%, and an 8.5 BB%.
He then received a late season call-up and posted the following AAA numbers: 82 wRC+, .292 wOBA, .318 OBP, .313 SLG, 23.9 K%, 8.0 BB%. While it’s nice that he was sort-of-able to maintain his performance, it was only an eight-game sample, so it means next to nothing.
Overall Culver obviously didn’t have a good offensive year, but for the first time in his career, he’s at least showing fans that he has some future in baseball. After all, he is known for playing great defense, and it’s not like shortstops need be a good hitter. If he can build on or even maintain his 2016 performance, he could carve a role for himself in the majors. Will it be a big part? Probably not, but there’s the possibility that he could be a Nick Ahmed type player.
It’s also worth noting that Culver is eligible to be a minor league free-agent, and unless the Yankees plan on keeping him on the 40-man roster or re-signing him, this could be his last season as a Yankee.