Culver powers River Dogs' victory

Yankees prospect homers twice, plates season-high four runs

Cito Culver has hits in six of his last seven games for Charleston. (Cliff Welch/

By Robert Emrich / Special to | June 12, 2013 7:25 PM ET

Cito Culver has spent the last 2 1/2 months adjusting to a decision he and the Yankees reached in the offseason. Wednesday's game could be a sign he's headed in the right direction.

The 2010 first-round Draft pick recorded his second two-homer game of the season and drove in four runs, powering Class A Charleston to a 10-5 triumph at Greenville.

Culver, who also walked and scored three times, forged a 5-5 tie with a solo shot in the seventh inning. With the RiverDogs clinging to a 7-5 lead an inning later, the New York native put the game out of reach with a three-run blast off reliever Austin Maddox.

"[It was a] 3-2 count and I knew he didn't want to load the bases with our 3-4-5 hitters coming up, so I knew [Maddox] was going to give me something to hit," Culver said. "I got 'em pretty good. I was just trying to get a good pitch and feel my approach to right-center."

The 20-year-old shortstop is batting .216 with six homers and 18 RBIs in his second season in the South Atlantic League. While it may appear that Culver has not come along how the Yankees would have liked, there's more to consider.

This is his first season batting strictly right-handed after spending his entire career -- both prep and professional -- as a switch-hitter.

"It's been tough," Culver said. "I've hit righty-righty before, but not at this level. I'm way more comfortable batting righty than lefty.

"Breaking balls are still a little bit of a problem for me, but I feel like I'm getting better each day. It's a lot tougher because I'm used to breaking balls coming in, and now they're going away."

Culver, who also homered twice on April 9 against West Virginia, hopes this game can provide a jump-start.

"I just [need to] keep working hard and preparing for the game and trust the work that I put in before the game," he said. "When I believe in myself and trust the work, there's usually good results. I try not to get too ahead of myself and realize the type of hitter I am, which is getting on base for the guys ahead of me."

Peter O'Brien, one of the RiverDogs who hits behind Culver, went 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored, falling a triple shy of the cycle. The 2012 second-round pick has been scorching the ball in June, batting .429 with four homers and nine RBIs in seven games this month. Overall, he's tied for second in the league with a .335 batting average, ranks second with a .648 slugging percentage, fourth with 47 runs scored and fourth with 21 doubles.

"He's a guy that really works hard on his craft and he never gives away at-bats," Culver said. "And he's really turned himself into a professional hitter."

Adam Smith (2-0) allowed one hit over two scoreless innings to get the win after Charleston starter Rafael De Paula gave up five runs on seven hits while fanning five over five frames. De Paula is second in the Minor Leagues with 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

Aneury Tavarez hit an RBI triple and scored twice for the Drive.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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