Cardinals Prospect Interview: Charles Cutler

After a superb professional debut that culminated in the New York-Penn League championship, Batavia catcher Charles Cutler spoke with Dustin Mattison.

Catching is definitely a premium position and when a team can find one with a sweet left-handed swing, that is an added bonus.  The St. Louis Cardinals were able to select such a player, Charles Cutler, in the 14th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft. 

 

Cutler ended his prep career as one of the most prestigious hitters in the history of California high school baseball.   When his Lowell High School career was finished, he held the state's all-time mark in hits, RBIs, triples, and runs.  

 

The backstop took his hitting prowess to the University of California where he would find playing time not only behind the plate but in the outfield as well.  In his final season with the Golden Bears, Cutler hit .321/.414/.395 on a highly successful team that made it to post-season play. 

 

During the summer of 2007, Cutler was named a Cape Cod League All-Star after hitting .271 for the Brewster Whitecaps.  The prior summer, he gained All-Star recognition in the Northwoods League.  

 

In his professional debut with Batavia, he hit .303/.365/.408 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 142 at bats.  For his efforts, Cutler was named a New York-Penn League Mid-Season All-Star.  The 22-year-old proved especially valuable in the playoffs, hitting .474.  In the championship clinching game against Jamestown, he finished the night by reaching base three times, scoring two runs, and driving in a run. 

 

Cutler was kind enough to take time out of his off-season to talk with me. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison: First off, how are you enjoying your off-season?

 

Charles Cutler: It is really nice, actually.  I have had a couple of weeks off since instructs so I am just trying to get used to this new lifestyle.  I have started working out to get ready for spring.

 

DM: Take me through a day during instructs.

 

CC: The day usually starts at 7:30 because I am a catcher.  I usually had early hitting or early catching work everyday.  We would get to the field about seven for breakfast, which I love!  We would do our stuff in the morning and then various drills up until lunchtime.  Then there are usually games after lunch.  If you are playing in the games, you stick around and if not, you are out of there. 

 

DM: During the summer of 2007, you played in the Cape Cod League.  What was that experience like?

 

CC: It was a great experience because it is always interesting to get to play against guys who are supposed to be the best around.  It is nice to get to measure yourself against those types of players.  Also, I am a big believer when it comes to baseball the only way to get better is to play.  I felt it helped me improve and it was a fun experience.  I liked the guys on my team. 

 

DM: How did playing against that type of competition prepare you for professional baseball?

 

CC: I mean it gave me an idea of what to expect especially playing the wood bats.  But there are only 44 games and there isn't much travel. 

 

DM: You played outfield while on the Cape and during your final season at Cal.  Do you have a preference?

 

CC:  I did catch about half the games when I was on the Cape.  I am a guy who has always been able to play the outfield pretty well.   Sometimes, you may find yourself on a team with a catcher that hits pretty well and it helps the coach to be able to get both bats in the lineup. 

 

My preference is catching.  I love catching.  I enjoy being active and involved in every pitch, every play.  I like having the quarterback role and keeping everybody in the game.  I am a really energetic guy to begin and I love being on the baseball field because you can make all the noise you want. 

 

DM: In 2008, you were on a highly talented Cal team with Tyson Ross, Matt Gorgen, and David Cooper.  There were six players from your team that went to Regional play.  How special was it that your final collegiate team was such a talented group?

 

CC:  Going into the season we knew we were going to be good.  But there is a stigma being at Cal.  There have been a couple flops in the past including my freshman year.  We were highly regarded with several guys who were highly drafted and we ended up having a rough year.  This past season we took off running and the next thing we know we are ranked at number five in the country.  It was just a bunch of guys playing well all at the same time.  Then there were other guys who you might not have expected much from who stepped up, too. 

 

DM:  Not only were you on two highly successful teams but also you had a chance to catch both of the Gorgens.  How do they compare?  (Writer's note:  Matt's brother Scott was the Cardinals' fourth round pick in 2008 and Cutler's teammate at Batavia.)

 

CC:  It's funny, I was so used to catching Matt that a couple times when I caught Scott, I would yell out to the mound, "Come on, Matt!"  He would look back at me and just give me this death stare.  Though they are identical twins, they really do have different pitching styles.  Matt is a power pitcher.  Scott has three quality pitches.  Scott has plenty of poise and he fields his position.  He has a lot of guts; he gave us that tremendous start in the playoffs.  That is something they do have in common, both have plenty of guts.  He is a more rounded pitcher compared to a power pitcher. 

 

 

DM: When you graduated from high school, you were the all-time leader in hits, RBI, triples, and runs in the state of California. That has to be somewhat mind blowing.   The state of California has produced some extremely talented players throughout the history of the game.

 

CC:  I definitely feel honored to have done that but I am not going to lie to myself or you, I played in one of the worst high school leagues in America.  That definitely had something to do with it.  As far as the triples, none of the fields here in San Francisco had fences so it is really hard to hit a home run but a lot easier to hit a triple.  I was blessed to have teammates that really bought into what we were trying to do. We beat a lot of teams that were a lot better than we were. 

 

DM: Tell me about Batavia team that won the New York-Penn League. 

 

CC: Truly, it was a magical run.  We battled just to get into the playoffs.  In the first game of the playoffs against Lowell, they had a walkoff win in the 12th inning at their place and we hopped on a bus and went eight hours back home and didn't arrive until eight in the morning.  We played later that night and were down by six runs in the sixth inning and all of a sudden, nine guys in a row got a hit.  Just everything seemed to come together just right. 

 

Our manager, Mark DeJohn, who we all have a lot of respect for, we seemed to rally around him.  I know I have a lot of respect for him; he taught me a whole lot about the game and how to be a professional.

 

It was a great group of guys to be around.  There was a lot of laughing and joking before the game but it was very professional once we got on the field. 

 

DM: Like we talked about earlier, you were not just a catcher during your collegiate career. Where do you feel that you are as a catcher and in what areas do you need to improve?

 

CC: Having not caught this last college season, I knew I would be a little rough around the edges and I was.  I have to get better in every aspect of the game.  I feel comfortable catching and I have been in high stress situations during playoff games.  I have been behind the plate with the bases loaded and a ball gets by me, we lose the game and those are good experiences for me.  I want to get better at holding runners on, keeping the ball in front of me, and work better with the pitchers.  I am taking Spanish classes right now so I can learn to communicate with everybody regardless where they are from.  I feel comfortable as a catcher and I believe I have the heart of a catcher and that is where I want to be. 

 

DM: Adam Reifer has been getting quite a bit of buzz due to the numbers he put up in his first season as a professional.  What can you tell me about him?

 

CC: He has a really live arm.  Also, he has a great mentality for being a closer; he wants the ball in the ninth inning.  That is what you want from your closer.  Off the field, he is a really laid back, nice guy.  He is a lot of fun to be around.  He's got the right mentality and he definitely has the stuff.  Reifer is just going to get better; he didn't even play last year.  He is really good now but I think he will be fantastic. 

 

DM: A lightning round containing some of the pitchers on your Batavia staff:

 

Thomas Eager

 

CC: I liken him to Reifer in that he has a bulldog mentality on the mound.  He really did a fantastic job for us.  The way he handled the situation of being brought down to us after being at the Quad Cities was like a real professional.  He really proved himself.  As far as his stuff, he has a lot of movement on his fastball.  He throws a ton of sinkers and has a good slider.  I loved working with him.

 

Arquimedes Nieto

 

CC: Nieto has great control and really good poise.  You never know if he is down five runs or pitching a no hitter by the way he handles himself.  He has a really good idea of how to play the game.  He has a changeup that he is not afraid to throw in any count and a curveball that is very effective. 

 

Hector Cardenas

 

CC: Another guy that handled the season with a lot of maturity.  In the beginning he was in our bullpen and he wasn't pitching very well.  Hector wasn't getting many chances and instead of dwelling on this, he took advantage of the opportunities.  He is the guy you want out there in game one of the playoffs. He has guts, he wants the ball, if something bad happens he forgets about it, and if something good happens he builds on it. 

 

DM:  Tell me about draft day 2008.  Did you suspect the Cardinals would be the team?  What did you know about the organization before they drafted you? 

 

CC:  I thought there was a chance.  There was a lot of mystery in my mind having not caught at all during my last season of college.  A lot of teams didn't know what to think of me having only seen me play the outfield at Cal this past year.  I did have a meeting with Cardinals' scout Jay North.  I really liked him and felt that we hit it off.  He called me before the second day of the draft and said they were looking to pick me and I thought that would be great.  So I knew there was a chance. 

 

DM: I read in your bio that you are a political science major.  What are your thoughts on the way the two candidates ran their campaigns?

 

CC:  (Laughing) I watched two of the last three debates.  I won't go into my own political beliefs, living in San Francisco, I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way.  I think it is a pivotal election with the state of the economy and various social issues.  I love watching the debates.  To me, that is the true reality TV. 

 

DM:  What should Cardinal fans know about you that they probably don't already know? 

 

CC:  I feel blessed to part of this organization.  Every day, I am learning more and more about the history and what it stands for.  I am committed to what I am doing.  I take serious everything I do but I don't take myself too seriously.  I just want to keep on moving up the ladder. 

 

I thank Charlie for taking the time to do this piece and wish him the best of luck in his future with the St. Louis Cardinals. 


Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

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