Wilmington Blue Rocks reliever Malcom Culver picked up in the second half where fellow reliever Spencer Patton left off when he was promoted: as one of the best relievers in the Carolina League. With the Blue Rocks losing about a player a week, I keep waiting for Culver to make that jump to Double-A to help NW Arkansas make the playoffs. But, as of today, he is still in Wilmington as they try to create a miracle and make the CL playoffs.
Culver has held opponents to a .176 batting average, which is lowest in the CL among relievers. He is also second in the league in fewest base runners per nine innings. Not bad for an eighth round pick back in 2008 out of high school. Oh and did you know that he was an infielder until switching back to pitching in 2011?
After a solid 2012 campaign with Low-A Kane County, where he carried a 3.69 ERA in 37 games out of the bullpen, Culver was a replacement in the prestigious Arizona Fall League last year. He made five appearances, totaling 5.2 innings. He did allow four runs on six hits (two homers), but struck out three (and did not walk a batter).
This year, he has gotten better in every facet. Despite throwing in just one more game (38), he has increased his innings total to 83 (compared to 63.1 last season). Culver has allowed just 52 hits (three home runs) and 31 walks. He has raised his strikeout total to 74 (compared to 52 last season). He has even picked up four saves, three coming since the All-Star break, with his latest coming on Tuesday night.
“Just little things, me and Coach [Steve Luebber] have been working on. Just putting things together, piece by piece, year in and year out. Just me taking what he says and taking it out there to the game,” Culver on why he has been so good this season.
He went on to say that “every time I take the mound, you have to have it [confidence]. It’s not being cocky or anything, just a sense of confidence that you can get the job done. Go out there and execute your pitches. I feel as a pitcher, you have to have that.”
Culver will once again represent the KC Royals this fall in the AFL as a member of the eight-man Royals contingent with the Peoria Javelinas.
“It’s a blessing. It’s just a fun time to meet some new players from other organizations, getting their side of the story.”