- Born November 8, 1988 in Walnut Creek, California.
- Attended high school at New Canaan High School in Connecticut. He was a three sport athlete, leading the football team at New Canaan to a state championship at quarterback.
- Attended Vanderbilt University with Reds pitcher Sonny Gray, director of pitching Caleb Cotham, and was coached by Derek Johnson.
- Vanderbilt University has many notable alumni, including Red Reporter’s own Wick Terrell.
- Derek Grimes wrote that last Fast Fact.
- No, he didn’t.
- Yes, he did.
- Allowed C. Trent Rosecrans to spend a day with him at Spring Training this year, which led to this fantastic piece at the Athletic.
- Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 10th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt.
- Traded by Detroit to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013.
- Made MLB debut for the Rays on July 18, 2014.
- Was granted free agency after the 2017 saeson.
- Signed by the Los Angeles Angels in December 2017, but was released before the 2018 season.
- Signed by the Texas Rangers in January 2018, but was released before the conclusion of Spring Training in 2018.
- Re-signed by the Rays on March 22, 2018.
- Traded to the Reds for cash on May 31, 2018.
A quick gander up one section shows a handful of projection systems that really, really aren’t that high on Curt Casali’s production potential for the 2020 season. Projections, of course, cobble together complicated factors, shove them into predictive formulas and models, and give decently accurate estimates from time to time, but sometimes simply miss the boat altogether.
Instead of looking forward in this section, though, let’s take a quick glance in reverse first.
54 MLB catchers have logged at least 350 total PA over the last two seasons, and while that’s not a huge sample, well, they’re catchers, and providing huge samples the way other positions can simply isn’t what they do. They get bent, broken, hacked, mauled, and ground to a pulp, which is why having two of them is a danged good thing. Anyway, of those 54 catchers in the sample, y’know whose even 100 wRC+ in that time ranks 12th?
You got it, it’s Casali. Heck, his .340 OBP in that stint is tied exactly with none other than Buster Posey. And considering that his defense has generally graded out as a tad above average (as has his pitch framing of late), that’s got the makings of a perfectly cromulent catching option, one who at age 31 isn’t likely to just fall off a cliff if healthy.
So, it’s easy to be a bit higher on Casali than those selected projections. One trip to his BBRef page shows that at least one other projection, Marcels, is much, much higher on him than the others, too.
With Casali, it will all likely come down to opportunities, and with Tucker Barnhart retreating from switch hitting to only swinging from the left side of the plate, how much action Casali gets against RHP vs. LHP will help define that a bit - his career .794 OPS vs. LHP is a good bit better than the .674 OPS he owns against RHP, after all. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get as many chances against opposition lefties as possible, which could well fuel a hyper-focused collection of really good numbers when given his opportunities, and that’s probably something the Reds would appreciate greatly.
Sure, the long-term catching hope is that former 1st rounder Tyler Stephenson continues his climb to the bigs, something that has an outside chance of even happening as early as this summer. For now, though, Casali figures to play a pretty central role as one of the Reds backstop options, one who while is far from a star would still be the envy of many teams around the league.