Cito Culver: Not widely known by the national publications at the time, last year's first round pick entered the organization with his fair share of skeptics. And while his combined .251 average over two minor league levels in his debut season didn't propel him to the top of anyone's charts, scouts immediately began seeing what the Yankees saw in Culver prior to his selection - he has what it takes to remain a shortstop long-term.
Boasting great range, soft hands, and even better throwing arm, Culver also brings a lot of defensive intangibles to the game. The switch-hitter also shows a patient approach at the plate, the ability to impact the baseball, and very good speed on the base paths. He's so young that it might take him a while for all of his tools to come together, but he clearly has a very high ceiling should that happen down the road.
Closest to the Majors
Reegie Corona: While the switch-hitter has been getting most of his defensive time at second base recently, the fact is Corona plays a very serviceable shortstop as well. He's a good bunter, has very good speed, an extremely patient approach with an ability to draw walks, and average to above average range in the field. He can help the big league club at shortstop if called upon in emergency situations, but his limited power relegates him mostly to bench material in Pinstripes.
Eduardo Nunez: For years people overlooked Nunez's tools and they have only recently started to come together to form a very solid overall game. He still makes mindless errors on routine plays a little too often, but he can also make the amazing plays look routine. That kind of erratic game has shown up on the offensive side too, but he is slowly but surely becoming a more consistent all-around player. He can help the big league club right now after spending most of 2010 in Triple-A.
Claudio Custodio: Signed in 2010, Custodio actually played most of his games at second base but he can also play a very good shortstop when called upon. He has the range and the arm to stick there long-term if that is where the Yankees decide to play him, and offensively he boasts a number of tools that could stand out there.
|SIMPLY SOLID: Pirela isn't great at anything but he does everything well. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Jose Pirela: Signed as a shortstop back in 2006, Pirela has been switching back and forth between second base and shortstop over his first few seasons while trying to acclimate himself offensively. While he has proven to be a better defensive second baseman, he is actually pretty solid over at shortstop too.
In fact he had career highs in triples, home runs, walks, and stolen bases last year while playing nearly 100 games at shortstop for the Tampa Yankees. The glutton of quality second base prospects in the Yankee organization and the dearth of quality shortstop prospects at the middle levels has given him the opportunity to remain at shortstop, and he has made the most of those opportunities. He isn't flashy at shortstop but he gets the job done and that allows him to fly under the radar.
Need to Make Their Move
Carmen Angelini: A torn labrum in his right hip last year stalled what was otherwise a struggling indoctrination to the professional game. Just a career .218 hitter with very little power or speed production, not to mention some struggles defensively, the 22-year old finds himself at a crossroads already. He needs to put together a solid full season to resurrect his fading prospect status.
Kelvin Castro: Like Angelini, Castro's career to date has been plagued by inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. He has just a .217 career average to his credit, not much power or speed to speak of, and erratic play in the field. The 23-year old is starting to cement himself as merely an organizational player at this point.
Walter Ibarra: Signed back in 2005, Ibarra has seemingly been around forever but he is still only 23 years old. There's no denying that he can play the heck out of the shortstop position defensively, boasting great range, a good arm, and big league intangibles, but he has really only recently begun to do anything offensively. He needs another solid season in 2011 to have any chance of getting back into the good graces of the Yankees as a long-term possibility even as a potential backup.
Addison Maruszak: Maruszak, who also added catching to his defensive repertoire late last year, does a lot of little things well; he has good range, he has a decent bat, good plate discipline, some power, and a little speed. However, outside of his tremendous arm strength, he doesn't do any one thing on the plus side and that limits his potential. He needs to keep putting up numbers to keep getting his chances.
Jose Mojica: It's tough to put a player with just two professional seasons under his belt in this category already, but the fact remains that the 22-year old has yet to break into the long-season leagues. He has proven to be a lot more solid than Angelini and Mojica to date, but the production hasn't been noteworthy either. He needs to start showing a little more power and/or speed very soon before quickly becoming a long-term afterthought.
The Jury is Still Out
Fernando Perez: Signed last year originally under the name Damian Arredondo, Perez was another case of identity fraud where it turned out he was older than originally thought. He hit just .216 despite showing good strike zone discipline as a 19-year old in his debut season last year and it remains to be seen how the defensive-minded shortstop will progress long-term offensively.
Rafael Polo: Unlike Perez, Polo had a very good professional debut season last year, hitting .323 in the Dominican Summer League and showing good gap power. At 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds though, the soon to be 19-year old is very skinny. There's some long-term potential here but the jury is still out as to if he can get stronger physically and stick long-term at the position defensively.