Royals Cheslor Cuthbert Is Hitting The Ball Really Hard
Royals rookie Cheslor Cuthbert is hurting baseballs
As the Royals struggle to gain any traction on their World Series hangover, their once stale farm system has subsequently come alive.
As the major league team falters, guys like Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, and Matt Strahm have went from seldom known prospects and busts to legitimate prospects with scorching hot starts.
Cheslor Cuthbert is not only in the group of meh prospects to raise eyebrows in 2016, but he is the first one to see big league time as a result, and he has not disappointed so far.
Thus far, Cuthbert is hitting .286 with a homer and three RBI in five games this season after leaving the PCL with seven homers in just 24 games.
His major league sample has obviously been limited so far in 2016, but he is making his mark early with a SABR-loving metric:
Here is his exit velo chart for 2016. Yes, it is only five games, but bear with me.
The blue line is Cuthbert. Notice that he only has two dots because he has only played in two weeks. The first blue dot is right on par with the league average, but this also only spanned one game.
The last second dot represents his last four games, where he has had an average exit velo of just under 92 MPH, including a 99 MPH home run and 103 MPH single on on Tuesday and a 107 MPH fielders choice last night.
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Again, it is only five games, but these are really encouraging numbers.
The primary goal of a hitter should be to hit the ball hard* (and preferably in the air), and Cuthbert is doing that.
*Just like the primary goal of a pitcher should be to miss a bat, or draw weak contact. When you are doing that, everything else is out of your** control.
**Yes, I am talking about Joakim Soria.
This is also extra encouraging because we know Cuthbert has always had the tools to perform like, but similar to Raul Mondesi and Bubba Starling, hasn’t been able to translate the tools into on-field production.
Here’s what Fangraphs had to say about Cuthbert.
"“Cuthbert made his big league debut last season, but despite a solid year in Triple-A to go along with it, it’s tough to figure out who he is as a player,” Fangraphs staff writer Dan Farnsworth said. “He has the physical tools to be an All-Star, but those tools haven’t translated into in-game success.”"
The early home runs in Triple-A was really what put Cuthbert into the conversation to replace Mike Moustakas after his injury, because they already had Christian Colon there to help out.
Frankly, it’s hard to envision the Royals not jumping at any opportunity to get Cuthbert to the big leagues with him showing an on-field production that he had never shown them.
If you have watched Cuthbert, his tools are obvious. The bat speed is there, the hands at third base are there, the cannon for an arm is there, and the epic chain is there.
It is also really easy to forget that Cuthbert played in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game last season and was ranked as the Royals ninth best prospect in 2011 ( in front of a guy named Salvador Perez) and 2013, while being the fourth best in 2012.
With his lack of on-field production, most scouts are still pegging him as a potentially solid regular, but more than likely a solid backup.
His physical tools would definitely disagree, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot if he doesn’t produce.
He has good enough hands to play second base when Moustakas comes back, a position that drastically needs an upgrade, but his lack of range will make that tough.
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However, if he continues to smash baseballs over these next few weeks, he might just force the Royals hand.
You can bet the Royals are hoping he does.