by John Viril—
Kansas City Star Royals beat reporter Bob Dutton tweeted this morning that the organization promoted 20-year-old 3B prospect Cheslor Cuthbert to AA NW Arkansas. The news culminates a nice turn-around for Cuthbert, who struggled last season and early in 2013 in High A Wilmington.
Cheslor Cuthbert, whom Baseball Prospectus rated the #8 prospect in the Royals system before the 2013 season, hit .240/.296/.322 in the notoriously difficult High A Wilmington in 2012. He began 2013 in a similar vein, but steadily improved as the season went on. Cuthbert hit for a mere .593 OPS in April, improved to .790 in May and began crushing the ball in June with a 1.135. On the year, Cuthbert has hit a solid .280/.354/.418 with 21 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs.
Cheslor Cuthbert’s sudden mastery of A+ is one bit of good news for a struggling minor league system. Despite the large size and tough hitting background of Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium, Cuthbert smashed 25 extra base hits in 254 plate appearances. His power numbers will likely increase in the easier hitting environment of NW Arkansas, despite the increase in level.
Cuthbert joined the Royals organization at age 16 on July 3, 2009 after signing the largest ever bonus offer for a Nicaraguan player ($1.35 million). He steadily rose through the system after starting in the AZ rookie league until coming to Wilmington last season. Baseball America named him as the Royals prospect with the best infield arm coming into both 2012 and 2013. Scouts generally see him becoming an average defensive 3rd baseman with an advanced bat for his age.
With former top prospect Mike Moustakas struggling at 3rd base in Kansas City, Cuthbert’s promotion is welcome news. While it is still too early to give up on Moustakas, if he turns out to be a bust then at least the organization has a potential solution rising through the system.