June 11, 2010
My entire life I've despised the Yankees. Despite respecting Jeter and Rivera I've still never pulled for them to come up with a hit or a big pitch and thought I would never ever root for a Yankee. However that all changed on Monday when the Yankess drafted Chris "Cito" Culver in the first round. I posted a link talking about his draft prospects a few weeks back and they were projecting him to go around the 7th round. So when the Yankees called his name in the first round on Monday there was pandemonium at the house. My phone immediately started to be bombarded with texts and calls, it's a great opportunity for the kid and I couldn't be happier for him.
I remember the first time he played for my legion teamÂ I didn't know anything about him other than he was really good. He was the first one to the field, and this wasn't a fluke he was typically the first one there to get extra swings and he always got a good long toss in. You could tell he was special from the start, he just did things that high school players shouldn't be allowed to do. Not only that his baseball IQ is incredibly high and I've coached some cocky kids in the past, kids that thought they were better than they were. But that's not the case with him, he got along with teammates incredibly well. Not only that he plays the game right, never walking in from his position and always playing hard.
I posted a story a few weeks back about the first time I saw him play. Here are two more. We were playing a team with a D1 pitcher lefty pitcher. One thing about my legion team is they looked forward to facing good pitchers and weren't intimidated by anyone. However the first two batters made outs, and up came Culver. Batting righty he laced a double to CF and we chased the pitcher after 2+ innings, but he just made it look so easy. Later in the year he came into close when we were up by one in the 6th. At showcases he was clocked at 92-93 MPH. The first batter walked and the next hitter doubled with the leadoff hitter being thrown out at home. The next batter struck out on 3 straight pitches and none of them were slower than 93 MPH as they were 3 of the weakest hacks I've ever seen and this was one of their better hitters. After a walk he got the next hitter to groundout. I don't think I'll ever forget that strike-out, another team was waiting to play behind us and I heard one of their coaches say "He dialed it up a notch huh?"
I'm not naive enough to believe I impacted his baseball career with the 30 some odd games he played for me. However he turned me into a fan and I hope he has the best of luck in the future. If he comes up in a big spot against the Redsox I'll be rooting against him just like every other Yankee, but for every other at bat I hope he gets a hit. He's someone I've always found was easy to root for and that won't change with him getting drafted by the Yankees. If he ever makes it to the majors, it would be one of the coolest moments of my coaching career and I didn't even have much to do with it.
"Success is a journey, not a destination." - Ben Sweetland