The Yankees threw most draft watchers a curve by selecting unheralded Cito Culver, a short stop out of Irondequoit High School in Rochester, New York. With several highly touted names like Anthony Ranaudo, Peter Tago, Tyrell Jenkins and Nick Castellanos still on the board, the choice of Culver, who was ranked outside of most pre-draft top-100 projections, is curious to say the least.
The Yankees have been following Culver since last summer, so perhaps they’ve seen something that everyone else has overlooked. As a 17-year old, switch hitting short stop, Culver clearly offers a considerable payoff, so this may simply be a case of high risk/high reward. Then again, it could also suggest that the Yankees were simply not willing to go over slot for some of the more established names that were still available. Although Culver, who has a commitment to attend the University of Maryland, will not be cheap, it stands to reason that he will not command as much of a bonus as those ranked far ahead of him.
Regardless of their motivation, the Yankees have now clearly shifted away from their strategy of drafting college age pitchers and are now focusing on replenishing their system with athletic, tools oriented position players. Last year, the Yankees also went for up-the-middle talent by selecting high school centerfielder Slade Heathcott. Of course, the team’s aging position players likely means a contingency plan will be necessary before guys like Culver and Heathcott will be ready to contribute.
Before getting too carried away with draft analysis, it is important to remember that amateur projections in baseball are far from an exact science. For all we know, the Yankees’ future short stop may not be Culver, but someone selected much later in the draft (or even more likely, someone currently playing for another team). For some perspective, listed below is a break down of the Yankees’ past first round selections.
Yankees First Rounder Selections By Year
|2010||32||Cito Culver (unsigned)|
|2009||29||Zachary Heathcott (minors)|
|2008||28||Gerrit Cole (unsigned)|
|2008||44||Jeremy Bleich (minors)|
|2007||30||Andrew Brackman (minors)|
|2005||17||Carl Henry (minors)|
|2004||37||Jonathan Poterson (minors)|
|2004||41||Jeffrey Marquez (minors)|
|2003||27||Eric Duncan (minors)|
|2001||42||Jon Skaggs (minors)|
|2000||28||David Parrish (minors)|
|1999||27||David Walling (minors)|
|1998||24||Andy Brown (minors)|
|1995||27||Shea Morenz (minors)|
|1993||13||Matt Drews (minors)|
|1991||1||Brien Taylor (minors)|
|1985||28||Anthony Balabon (minors)|
|1984||22||Jeff Pries (minors)|
|1978||26||Brian Ryder (minors)|
Yankees First Rounder Selections By Position/School
Yankees First Rounder Selections Ranked By WAR
Note: Only players with major league experience listed.