Main Attraction

Royals' Cuthbert started raising eyebrows in Arizona





KANSAS CITY—It was a must-see at-bat in mid-June—in an intrasquad game on a back field at the Royals complex in Surprise, Ariz.

Cheslor Cuthbert, a 17-year-old blue-chip prospect from Nicaragua, was facing Julio Pimentel, who appeared in the 2008 Futures Game at Yankee Stadium but missed last season with an elbow injury. It was an 11-pitch at-bat with Cuthbert appearing to hit a long homer down the left-field line, but it wound up just foul. It ended with Cuthbert being hit by a pitch.

The two squared off after several 2010 draft picks had arrived in Surprise and just before the Rookie-level Idaho Falls and Burlington clubs broke camp. Cuthbert, because of his young age and no professional experience, remained with the Rookie-level Arizona League club.

"In this camp, he does have the most tools, the most upside," said Royals roving instructor Luis Silverio of Cuthbert.

Silverio, who has spent 35 years in the Royals organization, said Cuthbert would have gone in the first 10 picks if he had been in the draft this June. The Royals paid Cuthbert first-round money—a reported $1.35 million signing bonus—on July 2, 2009. He did not play last year, but reported to instructional league. He was off to a .265/.342/.412 start in the AZL.

"At the plate, he's special," Silverio said. "He's got a major league bat. He's got power. He's got a good idea at the plate. He's got gap-to-gap power. He's got a lot of upside, a lot of raw tools right now.

"He's definitely going to be a plus player. His running speed is average and he's going to get bigger. He's going to be a solid defensive third baseman. He's going to stay at third, I think." Cuthbert is listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, but Silverio said he expects him to grow another inch and add 10 pounds as he matures.

"I think he has a chance to hit for both a high average and power," said Royals director of minor league operations Scott Sharp.

Culthbert's father, Luis, who is a lobster fisherman, was an amateur catcher and a baseball coach in Nicaragua. There have been 11 Nicaraguans to play in the majors.

ROYALTIES

• The Royals signed lefthander Kevin Chapman, a fourth-round pick, and assigned him to high Class A Wilmington. Chapman was Florida's closer, logging 11 saves with a 1.28 ERA and holding opponents to a .179 batting average.

• Lefthander Chris Dwyer, a 2009 fourth-round pick from Clemson, pitched five scoreless innings and allowed three hits in his Double-A debut with Northwest Arkansas. Dwyer went 6-3, 2.99 in 15 starts in the Carolina League before the promotion. The Royals also moved righthander Louis Coleman, a 2009 fifth-round pick from Louisiana State, from Northwest Arkansas, where he was 2-1, 2.09 with six saves, to Triple-A Omaha.