MLB.com has been releasing their top ten prospects lists at each position over the past few days. Kyle Zimmer and Adalberto Mondesi each found themselves ranked amongst the top ten right handed pitchers and shortstops. Now, with the announcement of the top ten third base prospects, the Royals have a third prospect listed in Hunter Dozier.
Dozier had been considered a bit of a reach when the Royals drafted him eighth overall in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, but he may prove those critics wrong. Across two levels, Dozier produced a solid .308/.397/.495 batting line with seven home runs while displaying an advanced sense for the strike zone. Dozier certainly appears to be lining himself up as the Royals possible third baseman of the future.
Yet, it was not that long ago when there was another top third base prospect in the Royals system in Cheslor Cuthbert. Prior to the 2012 season, Cuthbert was rated the 84th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, and he was the player that was expected to take over at third base if Mike Moustakas struggled. He was the Royals fifth overall prospect, and it appeared as though he could have a bright future.
Instead, the luster has dimmed on Cuthbert. He struggled in 2012, producing a .240/.296/.322 batting line, hitting only seven home runs. His defense, which was considered suspect to begin with, was even worse, as Cuthbert committed 20 errors. Cuthbert started the 2013 season once again in Wilmington, where he performed better in his second time through the Carolina League, hitting at a .280/.354/.418 rate. He only hit two home runs, but supplemented that with 21 doubles and an improved batting eye, walking 27 times against 37 strikeouts.
Those efforts earned Cheslor Cuthbert a promotion to Northwest Arkansas, where he struggled once again. While his power returned, as Cuthbert hit six home runs, he was unable to produce in any other facet. His .215/.279/.315 batting line, and 51 to 20 strikeout to walk rate, made it seem as though Cuthbert was overmatched at AA.
At age 21 throughout the entirety of the 2014 season, Cuthbert is likely to start the season once again in Northwest Arkansas. If history repeats itself, he may be able to adjust to the higher level of competition his second time through the league. Yet, with the ascension of Hunter Dozier, Cuthbert may either have to change positions, potentially learning first base, or risk being passed over.
The 2014 season could be critical for Cheslor Cuthbert’s future. While Dozier is likely to start the season in either Lexington or in Wilmington, he could be right there with Cuthbert by the end of the season. If Cuthbert struggles, he could find that Dozier has passed him by in the organization.
It was not that long ago when Cheslor Cuthbert appeared to be the future for the Royals at third base. Now, it appears as though that future may never arrive.
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