San Jose Giants second baseman Charlie Culberson was drafted by the same organization that drafted his father. Baseball is a family affair for the Culberson family.
His father and uncle both played baseball professionally, and they are just two of many who provide Culberson with support from his hometown in Calhoun, Ga.
“To have everyone back home send me a text, call me, tell me, ‘Good job, keep up the good work,’ that’s definitely a good feeling to have and good motivation,” he says. “When things are down and I don’t have a good game or a few good games, I still have people behind my back rooting me on.”
The bad games have been few and far between for Culberson this year. His numbers this season (.320 with 14 HRs and 62 RBIs in single A ball) are up significantly from last year. The 21-year-old attributes his success to simplifying his approach at the plate and an overall relaxation, something his coaches have stressed this season.
“I started the year off kind of shaky,” Culberson says. “I felt OK, so I wasn’t going to change much, and the coaches said, ‘Just keep playing, just keep swinging the bat.’
“There was one day in Modesto that I kind of caught fire and ever since then I have stayed with the same approach.”
Since April, Culberson has raised his average more than 100 points. In two seasons in Augusta, he hit below .250.
Recent struggles haven’t stopped him from keeping the same mindset at the plate.
“I heard Chipper Jones say one time that there are days that he feels weak or his body feels achy, and he will go for singles. When his body feels good to play he will try to drive the ball into the gap. Right now I haven’t been feeling as great at the plate. When I feel better at the plate it feels like the ball is coming in like a beach ball.”
Culberson opted to skip college and go straight to the pros—a decision he made with his family.
“I felt like I was ready for it,” he says.
All the confidence in the world won’t help Culberson if he can’t consistently hit. He said he has to hit if he wants to make it to the majors.
“In the end it’s going to come down to hitting,” he said. “I think I have showed this year that I can do it.” Freddy Sanchez, who plays second base for the San Francisco Giants, spent some time in San Jose after an injury earlier this season. It was a chance for Culberson to observe the habits of an All-Star big leaguer.
“Good guy,” Culberson says. “I definitely want his job, though.”