Name: Drew Cumberland
DOB: January 13, 1989
"Young, live-bodied shortstop," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He has been impressive. He broke that finger right out of the chute so that held him back."
After missing the first three weeks of the season with a fractured bone in his hand, the product of a ball cracking him on a pop up, Cumberland's professional tour began in the Arizona Rookie League.
After going 0-for-1 in his pinch-hit debut, Cumberland rattled off a 10-game hitting streak that included seven multi-hit contests.
Over 21 games with the AZL Padres, the shortstop hit .318 with two doubles, a triple, seven RBIs and 16 runs scored. He also showed good plate awareness, drawing seven walks compared to nine strikeouts.
"He has a good swing, a good, short, compact swing and the ball jumps off his bat," former Padres minor league field coordinator and current MLB scout Bill Bryk said. "He is a great runner."
Cumberland was moved up to short-season Eugene to end the year and notched a hit in each of his four games, going 6-for-18 with a double, six runs scored, two walks, and two strikeouts.
A left-handed hitter, Cumberland has a smooth, compact stroke that is translatable at the higher levels. He will use the whole field with a line drive swing that should develop modest power. He has a quick bat through the zone and maintains a level plane.
"He is another guy that will have to learn the strike zone and understand it is not hitting a pitch that he can hit but being patient enough to get a better pitch to hit," former AZL Padres hitting coach Manny Crespo said. "He has the bat speed and has to stay behind the ball. He has a tendency to pull the ball – high school stuff. You are not fast enough to do that to everybody. Hit the ball the other way."
The 18-year-old prospect has a tendency to chase outside the zone on off-speed pitches away, leaking out with his front half and dragging his bat through the zone.
The result is often a lazy pop up as he overextends himself and loses any semblance of bat control or power.
He has the ability to turn on an inside pitch and drive it into the gaps and added strength will give him an opportunity to send a few over the wall.
While pitch recognition is still in the developmental stage, he has good plate awareness and can lay off pitches middle-in that are outside the zone.
"Determination – he is a real competitor," said Crespo. "He wants to go out there every at-bat and do well. He is not happy going 2-for-4. He wants to get a hit every at-bat.
"He is aggressive and he pays attention. He really tries to learn and puts it into play. That is a good thing. When he hears something he goes out there and uses it. He has some good talent."
In a rare quirk, Cumberland hit southpaws better than right-handers, hitting .458 off lefties and .268 off righties. The small sample could be deceptive and next year should give a better indication as to why this trend was true – because Cumberland was uncertain why he was able to have so much success against left-handers.
He has plus-speed and is still learning the nuances of swiping bags. He stole six bases in seven attempts this year and that number should continually rise as he learns balance in his stance, first-step explosion and how to read a pitcher's move.
"He has very good running speed," former AZL Padres manager and current roving hitting instructor Tony Muser said. "He is a very good athlete. Very intense personality – like his play. A very good, live body that should grow. He has a nice little frame. He can get stronger, as long as he maintains his running speed. Very quick, very fast type athlete."
His bunting will have to improve and he spent a lot of time working on the trait at Instructs. With his speed, he should be able to drag for a base hit once a week.
"He has lightning in his hands," Fuson said. "He has lightning in his legs. He was a little scattered defensively in the beginning. Actually, he played better in Eugene defensively. There are a lot of little things defensively we want to clean up with him. A super skill player. Great makeup."
There has been talk that his future lies in centerfield, but the Padres will give him every opportunity to play and excel at the shortstop position first.
With 12 errors in his first 20 games in the field in the AZL and one over three defensive games in Eugene, Cumberland's primary focus during the Instructional League was centered around shoring up the miscues.
He has a tendency to rush in on balls, often getting caught between hops rather than reading the ball and attacking when necessary.
Cumberland also stands upright after gloving the ball rather than maintaining a semblance of balance, making his ball sail. Slowing down his approach to fielding and throwing should solve a lot of woes.
He has a strong arm that should continue to improve as he adds weight and strengthens his core.
"I am not sure if he will play shortstop," Bryk said. "Time will tell. If not, he will play second or centerfield. He will play somewhere because he can hit and run."
"A middle infielder type athlete," said Muser. He could eventually go to centerfield. Those guys are interchangeable with their athletic ability."
"It's a long way away before you think of moving him off of shortstop," Fuson said. "He was gimping around in high school with a sore hamstring and he got here kind of late to get a lot of work in. He needs to get a little bit better rhythm out there and we're going to have to start to wean him away from a bigger glove that he was using in the past."
Working in his favor is a brother that also plays professionally. Each off-season should add strength to his game and with a sibling willing to push him it could pay big dividends.
"Drew (Cumberland) impressed me in different ways," former Eugene hitting coach and current AZL Padres manager Jose Flores said. "He can fly, really fast. He needs a lot of work defensively. I know he is only 18. I look at him and know he is going to mature. He has a great work ethic. I think he has a future."
ETA: Cumberland might get a shot at full season ball but he has several things to work on at a demanding position. Improvement defensively will ultimately tell whether he is ready for Fort Wayne, otherwise he could begin in extended spring. He is a long ways off but has several plus-potential tools to work with.
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