Fantasy Baseball 2012: Cheslor Cuthbert or Xander Bogaerts?

I was asked in my fantasy baseball All Questions Answered thread who I would rather have: Cheslor Cuthbert or Xander Bogaerts. I responded that I prefer Bogaerts right now, but figured this topic would be a nice discussion piece here at Minor League Ball.

I will take a look at each player, starting with Bogaerts, with excerpts from various prospect experts.

Xander Bogaerts

I covered Bogaerts back in November in this article, so I won't go int too much detail on him. Bogaerts started the 2011 season in Low A as an 18 year old and was certainly one of the more impressive hitters in the league, even at his young age. Bogaerts hit .260-.324-.509 with 16 HRs and 45 RBI with a 71-25 K/BB rate in 265 at bats.

Here is what John wrote about him in his recent Red Sox Top 20 Prospects for 2012:

1) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Grade B+: Borderline A-. Jumped from Dominican Summer League to Sally League and showed very impressive power, needs polish and experience but terrific upside. May end up at third base. I have him at a B+ right now, but that is conservative and he may end up at an A- by the time the book goes to press.

I like John's ranking here as I think he is the best prospect in the Red Sox system. Bogaerts will certainly be challenged in 2012 as he should move up a level to High A. He will have to work on improving his strikeout rate and making more contact, but he is obviously a talent and will be one of the youngest hitters in the Florida State League in 2012.

More on Bogaerts and Cuthbert, including Baseball America's take on Bogaerts, after the jump:

Here is what Jim Callis from Baseball America wrote in their Top 10 Red Sox prospects for 2012:

Scouting Report: Bogaerts.....has an easy swing loaded with natural power, and he makes hard contact to all fields. While he still needs to learn the strike zone, he has already shown the ability to make adjustments and handle breaking balls. He could be a .280 hitter with 30 home runs in the majors, and that might be setting the bar low. Bogaerts has fluid actions at shortstop, but he lacks the quick feet for the position and will eventually outgrow it once he fills out. With his plus athleticism, average speed and a strong arm, he'll be able to transition to third base or right field.

I was shocked when I read the line in bold above, but Jim is known for being very high on Bogaerts. Even still, the thought that he has that kind of power is very intriguing for fantasy/dynasty league owners. Everyone thinks he will move to third base, but I wonder what the chances are that he makes it to the big leagues as a shortstop and moves to third base later in his career? With Will Middlebrooks almost ready at third base, I wonder if Boston will let his bat play at shortstop for a few years. Of course, they have 2-3 years to worry about that decision.

Cheslor Cuthbert

Cuthbert was signed as a 16 year old out of Nicaragua by the Royals in 2009. Cuthbert started his minor league career in Rookie league in 2010 hitting .250-.314-.422 with 3 HRs and 15 RBI in 128 at bats. The Royals were aggressive with him and started him in Low A in 2011 and he did not disappoint.

Here is Cuthbert's minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Age Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 Rk 32 128 24 32 7 3 3 15 9 35 .250 .314 .422 .736 54
2010 17 Rk 18 68 14 18 3 2 1 5 6 19 .265 .342 .412 .754 28
2010 17 Rk 14 60 10 14 4 1 2 10 3 16 .233 .281 .433 .715 26
2011 18 A 81 300 33 80 13 1 8 51 36 65 .267 .345 .397 .742 119
2 Seasons 113 428 57 112 20 4 11 66 45 100 .262 .336 .404 .740 173
Rk (1 season) Rk 32 128 24 32 7 3 3 15 9 35 .250 .314 .422 .736 54
A (1 season) A 81 300 33 80 13 1 8 51 36 65 .267 .345 .397 .742 119
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/7/2012.

In 2011, Cuthbert more than held his own, hitting .267-.345-.397 with 8 HRs, 51 RBI, and a 65-36 K/BB rate in 300 at bats. The average age in the Midwest League was 21.6 years of age in 2011, and the league average triple slash line was .250-.323-.370, so Cuthbert was better than league average while also being 3 years younger than most hitters in the league. If you remove his terrible August, where he hit just .127-.273-.203 in 79 at bats, Cuthbert was actually much better than the rest of the league for the first three months of the season. Here are his monthly triple slash lines:

May: .308-.357-.513

June: .307-.369-.440

July: .356-.400-.511

August: .127-.273-.203

Here is what John wrote in his Royals Top 20 Prospects for 2012:

3) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Grade B+/Borderline A-. If he hadn't slumped so badly in August this would be a no-brain A- grade. He was the youngest regular in the Midwest League and dominated much of the season. Defense may be an issue but bat could be special.

John was spot on when he said Cuthbert dominated for much of the season, and here is what Baseball America wrote about him in their Top 20 Midwest League Prospects for 2011:

The MWL's youngest position player, Cuthbert arrived from extended spring training in late May and hit .328/.381/.485 through July before wearing down and fading dramatically in the final month. He has impressive strength and bat speed, especially considering his age. With his advanced approach and willingness to use the whole field, he could develop into a plus hitter for both average and power.

Cuthbert has fringe-average range and a solid, accurate arm at third base. While he's not out of shape, he's already physically mature and has a thick lower half, so he'll have to work diligently to maintain enough agility to stay at the hot corner. He's a well-below average runner whose only alternative may be first base.

Cuthbert hit .328-.381-.485 as an 18 year old before slumping in August. Quite impressive considering the Midwest League is a pitchers league and boasts the following pitching prospects: Taijuan Walker, Zach Lee, James Paxton, Drew Hutchison, Keyvius Sampson among others.

In a recent chat over at ESPN, Keith Law was asked what he thought of Cheslor Cuthbert. He gave a one word response "Star."

I have 3 of the top 5 picks in the minor league draft for an AL-Only keeper league I just joined, and am hoping I can land 3 of the following in that draft:

Travis d'Arnaud

Jake Marisnick

Cheslor Cuthbert

Xander Bogaerts

Bubba Starling

But, if I had to make a decision between Cuthbert and Bogaerts, I am not sure who I would take, even after responding that I like Bogaerts better in my Saturday AQA thread.

Who would you rather have in a keeper league: Xander Bogaerts or Cheslor Cuthbert?

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