Profile: 3B - 6'1" - 190lbs -BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 18
• Hit: 30-55
• Power: 35-60
• Eye: 30-50
• Range: 40-50
• Hands: 35-50
• Arm: 45-60
• Run: 40-45
A great sign by the Royals out of Nicaragua, Cuthbert is a young, toolsy teenager who signed for a Nicaraguan record 1.35m as a 16 year old. While he hasn't garnered as much attention as other high profile Royals international signings such as Noel Arguelles, Cuthbert is an impressive player in his own right.
At the plate, Cheslor has a smooth, repeatable swing and the strong wrists and quick hands scouts love. He stays balanced and does a good job barreling fastballs though still has difficultly reacting to off speed and breaking pitches, which isn't at all surprising for someone his age. He also does still have a tendency to over extend in his weight transfer and you can get him front-footed pretty easily. These are adjustments all hitters his age are making so it's nothing disconcerting, he has the tools to be a good hitter even if he's lacking a lot of the refinement and consistency of one.
Defensively Cheslor moves well laterally, in my opinion, the key component to a good defensive player regardless of position. He's still working on cleaning up his footwork and making sure that when he makes his plants, he's doing so off the right foot but in general he has good defensive instincts. He pairs the good mobility with a strong arm that should stick at third as long as his body does. The question mark will be whether the body will stick. He's was a big kid at just 17 years old last year and he's going to get bigger, perhaps substantially so. If so a position switch to an outfield corner wouldn't be surprising, though that's really a discussion for a few years down the road.
Cuthbert biggest weakness right now, at least in regards to the small-sample performance metrics we have to work with is his strikeout rate. At the same time, the teenage player without plate discipline issues is about as common as an Indian head penny. What's encouraging to see is that he's posted solid line drive rates as well as strong isolated power numbers so the ability to barrel balls and hit them hard exists.
Projecting 17 year old kids is about as unreasonable a task as exists, but the potential exists for him to be an above average offensive and defensive third baseman. Of course, he's a long way from actually realizing that potential and much will change between now and then so it's always best to have tempered expectations. He's likely to open 2011 in Rookie Ball again, but with a strong performance there it's possible he sees A ball this year and a further strong performance there will send him rocketing up prospect lists.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.