There’s been plenty of talk about the minor league system of the Kansas City Royals in the past two years, as they’ve boasted an impressive crop of prospects such as Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, John Lamb, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Dwyer, Mike Montgomery, and Danny Duffy.
2011 has thinned their crop out somewhat, as Moustakas and Hosmer have graduated to the big leagues, Lamb has gotten hurt, and Dwyer has struggled.
But while graduation and struggles have inevitably claimed a number of the Royals’ farmhands, there’s another player who is emerging as a potential star.
Cheslor Cuthbert is just 18 years old; he won’t turn 19 until the offseason. The wiry, powerful third baseman commanded a large signing bonus out of Nicaragua before hitting .250/.314/.422 as a 17-year-old last year between Rookie ball and short-season. It was a solid and promising debut given his young age, which typically landed Cuthbert somewhere in the back half of Royals Top 30 prospect lists, no small feat given the system’s depth.
Cuthbert wasn’t assigned to a team until two months into the 2011 season, when the Royals sent him to the Low-A Midwest League to be one of the youngest players in the circuit.
He’s responded by hitting .336/.378/.517 in the pitcher-friendly circuit. While plate discipline (12 walks in 39 games) continues to be a bit of a sticking point for him, he’s kept his strikeouts down (25) and is too young for there to be too many worries about his selectivity. Furthermore, after fielding just .891 last year, Cuthbert’s upped his fielding percentage to .950 this season, which is excellent for a young third baseman and lends hope that he can stay there. Ultimately, by the time Cuthbert’s ready for the big leagues, he may push Mike Moustakas to first base or DH (if Moustakas goes to first, Eric Hosmer would move to the outfield or DH).
Hitters who can perform this well this young usually have very bright futures ahead of them. Cuthbert’s always had great scouting reports, and now that he’s backing it up with exceptional performance, he’s definitely a prospect to look out for.