Meet the Royals’ new prospect at second base: Cheslor Cuthbert

The plan to move Cheslor Cuthbert to second base was hatched at spring training.

Chris Vleisides

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals might have found a new hot prospect at second base.

And actually it’s a familiar name for Royals fans who follow the minor leagues: Cheslor Cuthbert.

Cuthbert, who was signed at age 16 out of Nicaragua for $1.35 million in 2009, has been groomed as a third baseman during his minor-league career, most recently at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

But with the recent promotion of third baseman Hunter Dozier, last year’s first-round pick, to Double A, the Royals will have to shuffle Cuthbert to another position.


For now, Cuthbert will play some at first base. But he will do his pregame work at second base so that in about two or three weeks, he can make his debut in a game there.

"Sort of a crash course for him," assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told by phone.

And actually, the plan to move Cuthbert to second was first hatched in spring, mainly because the Royals knew Dozier wouldn’t be long for Class A Wilmington.

So Cuthbert got some work in with former Royal Joe Randa, as well as present hitting coach Dale Sveum, a former middle infielder, at second base during spring training.

"It will be a little different for Cheslor having a little bit more reaction time at second base as opposed to third base," Picollo said. "He’ll be that much further away from the plate on grounders, but I think he’ll be fine with that. He’s got good hands and good feet.

"The big thing for him will be the plays around the bag. That’s where he’ll have to work. But he can handle it."

Cuthbert, now 21, is off to a so-so start this season, hitting .257 with a .328 on-base percentage. But he already has seven homers and 32 RBI; his previous career high in homers for a season is eight.

Picollo said a position change such as this one for Cuthbert could jump-start his progression through the system.

"Look at a guy like Neil Walker," Picollo said. "We scouted him and he was drafted (by Pittsburgh) as a catcher. He got switched to third base along the line and then he became a second baseman.

"I never would have guessed in a million years that Neil Walker would have become a second baseman. But you have to stay open to possibilities."

Dozier, by the way, made his debut Thursday night with the Naturals and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Other minor-league news:

— Wilmington starter Miguel Almonte missed a recent start with a sore biceps muscle. "It wasn’t any big deal," Picollo said. "It was some soreness right in the belly of the biceps, not his elbow. He played catch the next day and said he was fine."

Almonte is 4-3 with a 4.48 ERA.

"We’re still trying to get him to focus on his fastball," Picollo said. "He’s got such a good changeup he likes to pitch backwards, but to give him more options we’re trying to get him to start with his hard stuff, then use the changeup."

— Left-hander Sean Manaea also is struggling a bit. He has a 4.84 ERA and has walked 25 hitters in 48 innings, though he has 67 strikeouts.

"The high strikeout total tells you he has great stuff," Picollo said. "And he’s never been a pitcher who walked guys, so this is unusual. I think he’s trying to be too fine and he gets behind hitters and then loses them. It’s all part of learning."

— Another prospect to keep an eye on: Burlington (rookie league) left-hander Carlos Herrera (no relation to Kelvin). Carlos Herrera is just 20 and is 6 feet 3, 185 pounds.

"We had him in the Instructional League and we were very impressed," Picollo said. "Really a strong, physical kid. Really put together. A lot of Latin guys can be lean and lanky and then develop physically later on, sort of like Yordano (Ventura). But Carlos is filled out right now.

"Very aggressive pitcher with his fastball. He comes right at you in the zone. Got a fastball right now in 92-93-mph range, but there’s obvious room for growth there and we think he’s a guy whose velocity will grow each year.

"A kid with a high ceiling, we believe."

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