Photo courtesy: Mike Ashmore (2007)
Before 2009: Cusick was the Houston Astros 10th round draft pick in 2007, and debuted with their New York-Penn League affiliate, Tri-City, later that year. In 61 games, he hit .306 with three home runs and 35 RBI, and showed tremendous plate discipline by walking 38 times compared to just 25 strikeouts.
That performance put him on the prospect radar, and Baseball America rated him as Houston’s 29th best prospect heading into the 2008 season. It was a season he would finish in the Yankees farm system.
After spending the first four months of the season at Low-A Lexington — where he hit a career high 9 home runs — he was dealt at the deadline in exchange for LaTroy Hawkins. He finished the year at High-A Tampa, hitting just .174 in limited action.
2009: In just his third professional season, Cusick would start the 2009 campaign where he finished in 2008: High-A. He got off to a slow start, hitting just .204 in April, but his monthly average would raise until his call-up to Double-A Trenton in early August. He hit .289 in May, .325 in June, .368 in July and .429 in August. Overall, he ended up hitting .313 for Tampa with a home run and 17 RBI, walking 25 times and striking out just 23.
Cusick played every day at second base once he arrived in Trenton, and played solid defense and was adequate with the bat. However, he exhibited very little power or speed, with just four extra-base hits (no home runs) and no stolen bases.
After 2009: Cusick is a disciplined hitter who has walked more times (115) in his career than he’s struck out (109). But if he wants to stand out as more than just another solid middle infielder in the Yankees organization, he’s going to need to find the power he displayed while with the Astros organization. In a year and a half with them, he went yard 12 times. In the Yankees organization, he’s hit just one home run.
It seems very likely that Cusick will be the starting second baseman when the 2010 season gets underway at Waterfront Park. If he can repeat his 2009 season — where a taste of High-A in 2008 propelled him to a good year at that level the following season — then he would seem to be capable of posting solid numbers in Trenton and moving on to Scranton late in the season.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com