Scouting Prospect #39: Francisco Cervelli

The Yankees signed Francisco Cervelli as a switch-hitting shortstop out of Venezuela back in March of 2003. An athletic player, the Yankees moved him to catcher and he now has an intriguing combinaton of defensive ability and offensive upside. Here's a scouting report on Francisco Cervelli.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Francisco Cervelli
Position: Catcher
DOB: March 6, 1986
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"It's [was] a fun season," Cervelli said of his year in Staten Island. "I feel that I have gotten better as a player and we [did] good as a team."

Cervelli, a natural shortstop, was moved to catcher prior to the start of the 2005 season and saw limited action with the Gulf Coast League Yankees that same year, amassing a total of just 58 at-bats while learning his new position.

"It's not easy," Cervelli said of the transition from shortstop, "but they think I have some qualities for a catcher. They think I'm fast with my legs. In the Dominican, they showed me a lot of things at catcher. I had a very good coach there. It's not easy, but I love this position. I don't want to change now. I'm not a fast runner so I love catching."

Scouts have taken notice how Cervelli has handled the move and most agree that he brings a unique energy behind the plate. The former shortstop is very active and the footwork he used as a middle infielder has served him well at his new position.

"He's got a lot of energy," Staten Island manager Gaylen Pitts said. "He brings a lot of energy to the table. He's got great catching skills. He can catch and throw. He has a quick release. He has learned how to call a game. He's gotten better at that. He has the tools and he's starting to hit a little bit. The only question mark was if he'll hit, but he's kept his average up around .300 most of the year."

Entering the season with a career average of just .223, Cervelli gave up switch-hitting in 2005 in favor of batting from his natural right-hand side and the decision proved to be a prosperous one in Staten Island this past season, hitting .309 with a pair of home runs and showing much more consistency at the plate.

"I think if he can stay short with his swing, and doesn't get excited with the pitch inside and doesn't try to too much with it, he'll be stronger and get stronger as he gets older," said Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins. "And I see him being able to have a little bit more power than he's showing now."

Cervelli, despite sharing time behind the plate with Jose Gil in 2006, never hit below .273 after his first dozen games and he knows dealing with the daily rigors of the long-season leagues will not be an easy task.

"I need to take a lot of batting practice and I want to be stronger," Cervelli said of the thing he needs to work on the most. "I want to get stronger so I can stay strong throughout the season. I don't want to do good at first and then [not do well] at the end. I want to be good the whole way through."

Improving his stamina and consistency are atop his priority list heading into the 2007 season, but finally learning the ropes behind the plate, Cervelli is gaining confidence with each passing day and he now realizes he just might be the catching prospect the Yankees have been seeking for quite some time.

"I think Benito Santiago," he named as the big league catcher he most resembles. "I try to be like him because I like the way he could always concentrate and stay relaxed. I like the way he throws and squats behind the plate. And he calls a great game. I want to do the same things."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2006 Staten Island .309 136 10 2 16 21 0 13 30 .397 .426
2005 Gulf Coast .190 58 2 1 9 10 1 8 13 .300 .276
2004 DSL .216 88 2 1 14 14 1 19 18 .392 .273
2003 DSL .239 155 4 0 14 14 0 24 25 .379 .277


Batting and Power. Cervelli proved in 2006 that he has the ability to be a dangerous hitter. He accumulated ten multi-hit games, including four games with at least three hits, while sharing catching duties in Staten Island. He also has shown very good gap power with developing home run power and most scouts agree that he'll hit for more power as he matures. The one question that hasn't been answered offensively is how his bat will hold up to the demands of playing catcher everyday in the long-season leagues.

Base Running and Speed. Cervelli isn't a base stealing threat at all, one of the reasons the Yankees wanted to move him behind the plate. While he was a below average runner for a middle infielder, and despite just swiping two bases in his career thus far, Cervelli is an above average runner as a catcher. He hasn't proven it yet, but he has the potential to be a double-digit stolen base threat just on athleticism alone.

Defense. As mentioned above, Cervelli is very active behind the plate, perhaps a little bit too busy by some scouts' estimations. He displays very good footwork and it allows him to get quick releases on his throws to second base. It also allows him to be very adept at blocking balls in the dirt and he also has a very strong arm. The one area where Cervelli, despite showing significant improvement already, could really use some more work is in his game-calling ability and working with his pitchers. He has made marked improvements with his English and the language barrier isn't that much of an issue anymore.

Projection. Cervelli is solid enough both offensively and defensively to safely project as a big league backup catcher some day, but it's not out of the realm of possibility he could develop into something more. His athletic build is a major plus defensively but he'll need to get stronger to handle the daily pressures of playing every day. If he can prove to be the same type of hitter as a full-time catcher in the long-season leagues, perhaps even improving his power game, he'll have a good chance of developing into a big league starting catcher. For Cervelli, he just needs to prove he can handle the daily grind.

ETA. 2010. Cervelli appears ticketed to play with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2007 as the starting catcher. Sooner or later the Yankees will have to split and he Jose Gil up to give both players ample playing time, and if Cervelli is the one that's moved up a level higher, his ETA for reaching the big leagues could be a little bit quicker.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Francisco Cervelli
\r\nPosition: Catcher
\r\nDOB: March 6, 1986
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 180
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"It's [was] a fun season,\" Cervelli said of his year in Staten Island. \"I feel that I have gotten better as a player and we [did] good as a team.\"
\r\n
\r\nCervelli, a natural shortstop, was moved to catcher prior to the start of the 2005 season and saw limited action with the Gulf Coast League Yankees that same year, amassing a total of just 58 at-bats while learning his new position.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not easy,\" Cervelli said of the transition from shortstop, \"but they think I have some qualities for a catcher. They think I'm fast with my legs. In the Dominican, they showed me a lot of things at catcher. I had a very good coach there. It's not easy, but I love this position. I don't want to change now. I'm not a fast runner so I love catching.\"
\r\n
\r\nScouts have taken notice how Cervelli has handled the move and most agree that he brings a unique energy behind the plate. The former shortstop is very active and the footwork he used as a middle infielder has served him well at his new position.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got a lot of energy,\" Staten Island manager Gaylen Pitts said. \"He brings a lot of energy to the table. He's got great catching skills. He can catch and throw. He has a quick release. He has learned how to call a game. He's gotten better at that. He has the tools and he's starting to hit a little bit. The only question mark was if he'll hit, but he's kept his average up around .300 most of the year.\"
\r\n
\r\nEntering the season with a career average of just .223, Cervelli gave up switch-hitting in 2005 in favor of batting from his natural right-hand side and the decision proved to be a prosperous one in Staten Island this past season, hitting .309 with a pair of home runs and showing much more consistency at the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think if he can stay short with his swing, and doesn't get excited with the pitch inside and doesn't try to too much with it, he'll be stronger and get stronger as he gets older,\" said Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins. \"And I see him being able to have a little bit more power than he's showing now.\"
\r\n
\r\nCervelli, despite sharing time behind the plate with Jose Gil in 2006, never hit below .273 after his first dozen games and he knows dealing with the daily rigors of the long-season leagues will not be an easy task.
\r\n
\r\n\"I need to take a lot of batting practice and I want to be stronger,\" Cervelli said of the thing he needs to work on the most. \"I want to get stronger so I can stay strong throughout the season. I don't want to do good at first and then [not do well] at the end. I want to be good the whole way through.\"
\r\n
\r\nImproving his stamina and consistency are atop his priority list heading into the 2007 season, but finally learning the ropes behind the plate, Cervelli is gaining confidence with each passing day and he now realizes he just might be the catching prospect the Yankees have been seeking for quite some time.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think Benito Santiago,\" he named as the big league catcher he most resembles. \"I try to be like him because I like the way he could always concentrate and stay relaxed. I like the way he throws and squats behind the plate. And he calls a great game. I want to do the same things.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2006\r\n Staten Island\r\n .309\r\n 136\r\n 10\r\n 2\r\n 16\r\n 21\r\n 0\r\n 13\r\n 30\r\n .397\r\n .426
\r\n 2005\r\n Gulf Coast\r\n .190\r\n 58\r\n 2\r\n 1\r\n 9\r\n 10\r\n 1\r\n 8\r\n 13\r\n .300\r\n .276
\r\n 2004\r\n DSL\r\n .216\r\n 88\r\n 2\r\n 1\r\n 14\r\n 14\r\n 1\r\n 19\r\n 18\r\n .392\r\n .273
\r\n 2003\r\n DSL\r\n .239\r\n 155\r\n 4\r\n 0\r\n 14\r\n 14\r\n 0\r\n 24\r\n 25\r\n .379\r\n .277

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. Cervelli proved in 2006 that he has the ability to be a dangerous hitter. He accumulated ten multi-hit games, including four games with at least three hits, while sharing catching duties in Staten Island. He also has shown very good gap power with developing home run power and most scouts agree that he'll hit for more power as he matures. The one question that hasn't been answered offensively is how his bat will hold up to the demands of playing catcher everyday in the long-season leagues.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Cervelli isn't a base stealing threat at all, one of the reasons the Yankees wanted to move him behind the plate. While he was a below average runner for a middle infielder, and despite just swiping two bases in his career thus far, Cervelli is an above average runner as a catcher. He hasn't proven it yet, but he has the potential to be a double-digit stolen base threat just on athleticism alone.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. As mentioned above, Cervelli is very active behind the plate, perhaps a little bit too busy by some scouts' estimations. He displays very good footwork and it allows him to get quick releases on his throws to second base. It also allows him to be very adept at blocking balls in the dirt and he also has a very strong arm. The one area where Cervelli, despite showing significant improvement already, could really use some more work is in his game-calling ability and working with his pitchers. He has made marked improvements with his English and the language barrier isn't that much of an issue anymore.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Cervelli is solid enough both offensively and defensively to safely project as a big league backup catcher some day, but it's not out of the realm of possibility he could develop into something more. His athletic build is a major plus defensively but he'll need to get stronger to handle the daily pressures of playing every day. If he can prove to be the same type of hitter as a full-time catcher in the long-season leagues, perhaps even improving his power game, he'll have a good chance of developing into a big league starting catcher. For Cervelli, he just needs to prove he can handle the daily grind.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. Cervelli appears ticketed to play with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2007 as the starting catcher. Sooner or later the Yankees will have to split and he Jose Gil up to give both players ample playing time, and if Cervelli is the one that's moved up a level higher, his ETA for reaching the big leagues could be a little bit quicker.
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