Blue Jays Cullen Large expected to play an important role for the 2018 Lansing Lugnuts
It is never easy to get a good read on rookie minor leaguers. Most recently drafted players are assigned to a short-season rookie ball team and get between 50 to 250 at-bats or pitch around 30 innings.
Talk about a small sample size.
Sure there are some rookies which set separate themselves from the pack with jaw-dropping performances. Guys like Bo Bichette and Bradley Jones in 2016 or Ryan Noda and Nate Pearson in 2017. More often than not, the organization will ease their newly drafted prospects into action by rotating guys in and out of the lineup. This allows the organization to assess where they are in their development. We also need to remember that many of these young men are coming off a long college season.
Then there are those players which get drafted, sign, join their assigned team, get some regular playing time, and see their rookie season cut short due to injury.
Vancouver Canadians second baseman Cullen Large falls into this category.
The product of William & Mary, teammates with catcher Ryan Hissey, Large signed on June 19th. He was assigned to the Northwest League Short-Season A-Ball Vancouver Canadians on June 22nd.
He made his professional debut on June 23rd, going 1-for-4 with a run, a walk, and two strikeouts. He kicked off his professional career with a 5-game hit streak. Large played seven games in June, batting .241 with a double and one RBI.
Cullen quickly established himself as the C’s everyday second baseman. He played all 24 games in July at 2nd and batted .253 with 7 doubles, and a triple with 5 RBI.
His season came to an end on August 6th. It was his first game in left field. He singled to right field in his first at-bat in the top of the 2nd, leadoff the 4th inning with a hit by pitch, ground into a double play to end the 6th innings, and singled in Logan Warmoth from 3rd in the 8th inning. He would break his little finger on his non-glove hand sliding into second base as Deiferson Barreto grounded out in the next at-bat.
Large finished 2017 batting .246 with a .681 OPS, 8 doubles, a triple, and still searching for his first professional home run. He showed a good feel for the strike zone with a .356 OBP and decent base stealing instincts (3-for-3).
Baseball America pre-draft scouting report:
A switch-hitting college middle infielder with a track record of success, Large lived up to expectations this season, helping the Tribe to a solid 31-win regular season. Listed at 6-foot, 175-pounds, he is a solid athlete whose calling card is his bat. Some scouts give him above-average raw power, and he has a chance to get to it because of his feel for hitting. He’s comfortable working deep counts, isn’t afraid to draw a walk and can drive balls to both gaps. He’s an above-average runner in workouts, and while it doesn’t always play on the bases, it could allow him to play the outfield and become a utility option. He’s a switch-hitter with sneaky pop from the left side. Large’s range and hands are fringy and he should become an an average defender at second.
In my ‘Predicting 2018 Blue Jays Minor League Middle Infielders‘ piece, I have Cullen Large starting the year in the Midwest League as a member of the A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts. He will be battling Samad Taylor for at-bats at 2nd base, but we could see Large shift into a utility role with the Lugnuts according to the scouting report above.
Regardless of which position Large plays, we can expect to see a lot of Cullen in 2018…..just protect that pinky.
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