New Canaan's Casali promoted to Tampa Bay's Double-A squad; goes 3-for-3 in debut
Curt Casali has had a solid nine-day stretch, to say the least.
The former New Canaan High School standout catcher and current Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer belted a walk-off home run for the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs on Wednesday, July 17, got promoted to the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits on Sunday and went 3-for-3 in his debut with an RBI and a run scored on Thursday.
Casali got the call to move up to Double-A after posting a .267 batting average to go along with five long balls and 22 RBI over 165 at bats with the Stone Crabs.
"It's been a good couple of days. I'm just trying to get my swing right and stay patient with the process. Every day is a grind and you try to go out and do your best," said Casali, who batted seventh in his debut with the Biscuits. "I'm very excited. There are some nerves that go along with it too, but it's good to be taking the next step up the ladder. I called my dad and the rest of my family, and there were a lot of good feelings."
Despite the impressive debut, the promotion to Double-A doesn't come without a whole new set of challenges for Casali, most notably the need to become familiar with his pitching staff.
"That's definitely the hardest part is working with a completely different set of pitchers," Casali said. "These guys are in Double-A for a reason; they're consistent, they're good and my job is to get them through the game and hopefully put down the right fingers."
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Right from the moment Casali stepped through the doors of New Canaan High School, former Rams baseball coach Mark Rearick knew he was the recipient of a special talent, even batting Casali third as a freshman.
"It was like having another coach on the field. He was so smart," said Rearick, whose team won the FCIAC championship during Casali's junior year. "He made the whole team better just with his presence. He was great at helping his teammates out."
Rearick and his coaching staff called the pitches for every year of his tenure with one exception: Casali's senior season.
"His senior year, Curt did it and he was fabulous," Rearick said. "Curtis has always worked his butt off. He was the first one out to practice, the last off the field and he was always willing to help kids."
After a standout career at Vanderbilt University, including his senior season in 2010-11 in which he batted .303 with seven homers and 53 RBI, Casali was drafted in the 10th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2011. This past March, the Tigers dealt Casali to the Rays.
"It was a little bit of a surprise. It's definitely something that most people don't think is going to happen to them, but it's part of game. Trades happen every day," Casali said. "There was a week left in spring training and it was the farthest thing from my mind. It's funny how things can happen so quickly, but I'm glad the Rays thought enough of me."
"There is a reason that Tampa Bay reached out for Curt. Obviously, their evaluators saw something in him that they liked," Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin said. "Getting to the big leagues is not a question in my mind. He has the physical and mental abilities to get there and stay there. This is a quality young man with a very mature mindset for life and the game of baseball."
Casali's big night last Thursday led the Biscuits to a 6-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns.
"It felt pretty cool, especially in the first game. I just wanted to come out here and show the guys what I can do," Casali said. "I definitely don't expect 3-for-3 nights every night. It's going to be a challenge, and I think I'm ready for it."