Scouting Yanks Prospect #26: Claudio Custodio

Custodio is good on both sides of the ball

The New York Yankees signed shortstop Claudio Custodio out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. Extremely toolsy, he showed an ability to make quick adjustments in his first season in the United States with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2011.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Claudio Custodio
Position: Shortstop
DOB: October 30, 1990
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He followed up his 2010 debut season in the Dominican Summer League that saw him play second base and hit .217 with five home runs and 30 walks in 61 games by hitting .325 with one home run and 26 stolen bases as a shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Yankees last season, leaving many team officials to believe he is already a legitimate big league prospect.

"Yeah he is," opined Mark Newman, the Yankees' senior vice president in charge of scouting and player development. "He's got great range, he can throw, he can catch the ball, he can swing the bat, and he can swing the bat with some impact.

"He's not a big kid but he can impact the ball, and he can really run. What's not to like? He can play shortstop. He can play other places, but he can play shortstop."

Showing great versatility both defensively and offensively, it is his overall tools that definitely stand out, including great speed.

"I think I'm naturally pretty quick so that may help, but in the offseason workouts in the Dominican they had us running every day after practice and that helped me maintain and work on my speed," Custodio said through a translator.

He has stolen 40 bases already in his first 100 professional games, but even though he has those kinds of wheels he still has some power in his swing. There are positives and negatives to that, however, in players so young.

"He thinks sometimes he is a power hitter and tries to hit the ball in the air and at times gets away from just hitting line drives," GCL Yankees hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez said.

"He's a talented young hitter who has a lot of potential. These young guys always have to work on their game but he's been fun to watch."

Not the type of hitter to hit home runs in bunches, the fact is he is a very good line-drive hitter right now who can spray hits all over the field and that is a special premium when you throw in some great defensive abilities at shortstop too.

"He's going to be a gap-to-gap hitter but I don't think he's going to be a power guy," GCL Yankees manager Carlos Mendoza opined. "He's a very good shortstop, the ball sticks in his glove. He knows how to play the position.

"He really knows how to swing [the bat], he's got good instincts on the bases and can steal some bases, he's got great speed, and he puts the ball in play. He's got great hand-eye coordination which is going to help him a lot."














2011 GCL Yankees .325 157 9 1 19 46 26 22 40 .433 .414
2010 DSL Yankees1 .217 203 9 5 36 46 14 30 38 .328 .365

Batting and Power. What makes Custodio pretty advanced for a first-year Latin American player is his advanced patience at the plate, overall pitch recognition, and knack for putting the ball in play. Like most young hitters he can still get fooled on better offspeed pitches, but he has shown a good ability not only lay off of them but even hit them when they're in the zone. He is also adept at using the entire field when he hits, taking the balls wherever the pitches are thrown. Those are good signs that he could be a high average hitter down the road. He has average home run pull power and will make pitchers pay for mistakes inside, but he can also smack line-drives to the opposite field.

Base Running and Speed. Naturally fast, Custodio also shows above average base running skills at a very young age. He gets very good jumps and can read opposing pitchers' moves. Stealing bases at an 89 percent success rate thus far puts him into the elite base running category right now, but he is more above average than plus in the running deparment.

Defense. His above average speed combined with his quick first step gives him exceptional range in the field and he boasts an above average throwing arm that allows him to make nearly every play. He also shows soft hands and ability to make the short-hop play already, giving him the necessary basic skills to stick at shortstop long-term. He can also play an outstanding second base where his arm is a plus tool there.

Projection. Custodio has the makings of being a potential special two-way shortstop down the road; above average speed, above average hitting skills, patience, above average defensive abilities, and average power potential. If you throw in his ability to play a great second base, he offers the safe projection as a future middle infield utility type already. However, as mentally mature as he is for such a young player, his body still has a lot more room to grow so there's a chance the power could develop a full grade higher in the coming years and that gives him the ceiling of a future big league starting shortstop. He has a long way to go but he could be a special player someday.

ETA. N/A. If not for the presence of Cito Culver immediately ahead of him on the shortstop depth chart, Custodio would have been ready for low-A Charleston. As it stands right now the safer bet has him back in Extended Spring Training and breaking camp with the Staten Island Yankees in 2012 if the Yankees want him to get full-time reps at shortstop.

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