Heading into the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert as the Kansas City Royals fifth best prospect, mainly because they considered him an advanced hitter for his age (at just 19 years old). The Royals sent him to High-A Wilmington after a fairly successful 2011 season with Low-A Kane County.
Carolina League pitchers proved to be a bit much for the teenager, and he hit just .240. He struggled to pick up curveballs and regularly chased pitches out of the strike zone.
Cuthbert seemed to figure it out over the final month of the season, as he hit .308. He carried that momentum to instructional league and then back home with him to Nicaragua, as he impressed during his home country’s time in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Panama. He even hit a homerun off Royals teammate Sugar Ray Marimon in a loss to Columbia.
His size has been an issue and many think he will not be able to stay at third base. Right now, the Royals believe he can stay at third base as long as he keeps up with his conditioning. Cuthbert looked pretty good during the WBC last weekend (though he did make an error that cost Nicaragua a run). He made 20 errors with Wilmington in 2012 in 268 chances (124 games).
The biggest concern with Cuthbert is the effort he gives. He seemed to find himself on the bench this season for his lack of effort and lack of hustle. This could be a maturity factor, but he will not move far if his attitude does not change.
Baseball America expects Cuthbert in the big leagues by age 22. He could still reach the Majors by then, as he has just turned 20. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star dropped Cuthbert in his prospect rankings to tenth. MLB.com has him ranked as the Royals seventh best prospect.
I expect him back with the Blue Rocks to start the 2013 season. The Royals do not have depth in front of him at third base, so if he hits with a return trip to the CL, I expect him in Double-A before the All-Star break.