The Yankees have successfully restocked their positional player depth up and down the farm system,…
Yankees vs. Mets: Shortstop Prospects
Cecchini, last year's first round pick by the Mets, is not exactly a high-ceiling guy on either side of the ball but he is very solid in nearly every phase of the game. The right-handed batter shows solid long-term hitting ability, decent power for a shortstop, okay speed, and his defensive has the chance to be average to slightly above average.
Built like his older brother Garin, however, a former shortstop himself turned third baseman for the Red Sox, there is the possibility he might have to switch positions long-term, perhaps second base, if he continues to get bigger.
Culver on the other hand not only projects to stick at shortstop defensively long-term but thrive there. He has plus arm strength, above average range, soft hands, and an innate ability to position himself well in the field.
Offensively the switch-hitter shows big league plate discipline and patience, but just a .215 hitter in low-A ball last year, his swing mechanics continue to be a work in progress. He has average power power potential for a shortstop and average speed that plays a level higher because of his aggressiveness.
Both clubs have good shortstop prospects coming out of the New York Penn League too, including Phillip Evans for the Mets and Claudio Custodio for the Yankees, although they are very different ball players. Evans, a 15th round pick out of high school in 2011, has the look of a pure hitter someday, one who should draw a good number of walks and chip in with average power potential, but defensively, while he is solid right now, might have to switch over to second base because the thicker lower-half could limit his range down the road. He should be a very good hitter though.
Custodio on the other hand is a defensive wiz in the field, boasting plus speed, great range, a strong arm, and good hands. There is no question he has what it takes to stick at short and potentially become an impact defensive player. He has a quick bat too so despite his smaller size he has some pop, perhaps long-term average power potential although probably just a shade below that, but he could be an impact base stealer.
Both organizations have some decent prospects at the shortstop position in the minor leagues but most of them project best as potential utility type players, including the Mets' Daniel Muno, Wilfredo Tovar, T.J. Rivera, and Matt Reynolds, and the Yankees' Jose Pirela, Addison Maruszak, Jose Mojica, and Walter Ibarra. To be fair though, the Mets' group here is probably better suited for the long haul.
Muno, Rivera, and Reynolds, last year's third round pick by the Mets, are all solid hitters with good big league plate discipline, each has average power, and all three can play other infield positions quite well, but neither of them has the desired range to stick at shortstop in an everyday capacity at the big league level.
Muno in particular has some intriguing upside with the bat and speed-wise, enough to potentially become a starting second baseman type if given the opportunity. Jose Pirela of the Yankees is not nearly as quick as Muno but the rest of the game projects just as well, and the Mets' Matt Reynolds is nearly a Pirela clone tools-wise.
The Mets also have Double-A tested Wilfredo Tovar among their crop of shortstop prospects right now. Defensively he is right up there with Culver despite not having plus speed and he can really hit too. However, he has virtually no power and that will probably limit him to big league reserve duties down the road.
Where the Yankees will have a long-term edge is at the lowest of minor league levels. Abiatal Avelino, Jorge Mateo, and Yancarlos Baez all have the upside to be potential big league starting shortstops someday, especially Avelino, but none of them have broken into the rookie levels in the United States yet so they will not be included in the categorical comparisons below. Just keep them in mind because as soon as a year from now this organizational position debate could sway heavily into the Yankees favor once they come States-side.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Even though the Mets' best depth of current minor league shortstops don't exactly project to stick at the position in an everyday capacity long-term, they have a few more power bats right now, including Evans, Muno, Rivera, Reynolds, etc, all of whom have at least average big league power potential for middle infielder types. The Yankees' best power is all future projection and not current power. Advantage: Mets
Hitting For Average: Again, the Mets have quite a few more bats who can play shortstop right now even if they might not project to serve as everyday regulars down the road. Muno, Rivera, Tovar, and Evans all have the potential to be near .300 hitters, and so does Cecchini. The Yankees on the other hand have their better consistent bats coming in from the Dominican Summer League program and they haven't been battled tested yet. Advantage: Mets
Defense: Tovar is an above average defender and Cecchini projects to be average, but beyond that the Mets don't have a whole lot of defense at shortstop right now. The Yankees though have stellar defensive gloves in Culver and Custodio, and even Walter Ibarra is above average. Once Avelino and Mateo come States-side, this category could be a blowout by the Yankees. Advantage: Yankees
Speed: This is where the Yankees can keep it close for now and once Avelino and [especially] Mateo come States-side it will weigh heavily in the Yankees' favor. Only Daniel Muno from the Mets projects to have a real impact in the running game and that's not enough to compare to Custodio's plus speed and Culver's aggressive style. Advantage: Yankees
Overall Potential: Shortstop is a defensive first position so in one sense the Yankees might be a little better off for the long-term, but the bats for Culver and Custodio have to become more consistent. The Mets at least have fewer question marks offensively at the position right now. Even if they don't all project as everyday shortstop types, some of them are going to have big league impacts. This could dramatically change though next year. Advantage: Mets
Highest Ceilings: Cito Culver (Yankees), Claudio Custodio (Yankees), Gavin Cecchini (Mets), Daniel Muno (Mets), Matt Reynolds (Mets)
Best Power: Phillip Evans (Mets), Matt Reynolds (Mets), Gavin Cecchini (Mets), Daniel Muno (Mets), T.J. Rivera (Mets)
Best Average: Phillip Evans (Mets), Gavin Cecchini (Mets), Claudio Custodio (Yankees), Wilfredo Tovar (Mets), Daniel Muno (Mets)
Best Defense: Cito Culver (Yankees), Claudio Custodio (Yankees), Wilfredo Tovar (Mets), Walter Ibarra (Yankees), Gavin Cecchini (Mets)
Best Speed: Claudio Custodio (Yankees), Cito Culver (Yankees), Daniel Muno (Mets), Wilfredo Tovar (Mets), Gavin Cecchini (Mets)
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