Yankees Trust Tools, Work Ethic Of Top Pick Culver

NEW YORK—Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer trusted his scouts instead of listening to the conventional wisdom during the 2010 draft and took Cito Culver in the first round.

Many criticized the Yankees' selection, 32nd overall, of the raw 18-year-old high school shortstop from Rochester, N.Y.

"If I listened to everybody, there wouldn't be any players to take where we draft," Oppenheimer said.

Culver played 56 games in his debut season last year, batting .251/.325/.330 in 203 at-bats, mostly in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He remained in extended spring training to open this year, and after reporting to short-season Staten Island he had batted .279/.342/.337 in 104 at-bats, while providing highlight-reel plays on defense.

"He has done a very nice job at short," farm director Mark Newman said. "He has the range and the arm strength. We try not to judge too quickly. You look at tools and work ethic."

Staten Island manager Tom Slater said that Culver is a manager's dream.

"He makes every routine play and the exceptional play," said Slater, who also managed Culver in the GCL. "He makes one of them a game, whether it's going into the six-hole and making a jump throw or behind second base and making a spin throw. He has great instincts and always seems to be in the right spot."

Slater credits hitting coach Ty Hawkins for the switch-hitting Culver's progress at the plate.

"He has done a great job working on both sides of the plate," Hawkins said. "You are seeing progress with his approach, which leads to good pitch selection."


• High Class A Tampa outfielder Slade Heathcott avoided surgery on his left shoulder after doctors recommended rest and exercise for the ailing joint, which he had surgery on in the offseason. The 20-year-old batted .271/.342/.419 in 210 at-bats for low Class A Charleston prior to his promotion.

• The Yankees signed 29-year-old righthander Logan Kensing out of the independent Atlantic League, and he sat at 93-94 mph for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.