6-4 220 Bl Tl
Born- March 26, 1987 New City, NY
Obtained- Selected in the ninth round, 2008
Steven (he prefers that to Steve) Caseres was the Dodgers ninth selection in the 2008 draft and the 277th pick overall out of James Madison University. Now if you don't think of James Madison the same way you think about Southern California when you talk of baseball schools consider this: Caseres was the 78th player drafted or signed from the University.
"It's an amazing," commented Caseres when it was announced he was selected in the ninth round. "You put in all the hard work and it's what you dream of when you start playing as a kid. For the day to finally come, it's one of the greatest experiences of my life to this point. I'm excited to see what happens."
Dodgers' Scouting guru Logan White was excited, too. "We didn't know if we could sign him but his sweet, left-handed swing was hard to pass up. He has a great power stroke -- more power than James Loney had at the same age."
"I had a good season for James Madison but being a sophomore I was sort of under the radar coming into the draft," he told LADugout. "But I had been working hard after the season, lifting and hitting."
Steve's "good" season consisted of a .342 average, 63 runs scored, 76 hits, 20 doubles, 21 home runs, 70 RBIs, a .734 slugging percentage, and a .438 on-base percentage. He seems Steve is a master of understatement.
And as for flying under the radar, "The Yankees called me and said they wanted to draft me in the fifth round. But they didn't offer what I was asking. It wasn't just about money. I wanted a mutual commitment and felt that if they couldn't make a commitment to me, I couldn't make a commitment to them.
"The Dodgers did make that commitment and I was very happy to sign with them."
He missed the first few games at Ogden while his contract was being approved, then got into 10 games in June, hitting .289, knocking in nine runs and adding his first two professional home runs. He followed that with a .271 July and then turned up the heat.
In August, Caseres slugged five of his seven home runs and knocked in 19 runs. He was hitting .343 during the month before running into a slump over the final six games and finished the month with .263 average and the season at .268.
On August 18 against Helena, he banged a three-run homer early in the game, added another RBI with a ground ball, then in the ninth, "I was facing a lefthander who had retired me the time before and I was waiting for the same pitch again. When I got it I hit it over the right field wall." It was his second three-run homer of the game and he finished with a total of seven RBIs, a total he hadn't realized until after he game.
"It was even neater," he said, "Because I had my big game on my my parents (Patricia and Jose Caseres) anniversary.
Then he led the Raptors in the playoffs against Orem, collecting a pair of doubles and a home run while hitting .462. Unfortunately, his torrid streak didn't keep the Ogden from being eliminated in four games.
During his first professional season he shared first base with Kyle Orr and served as the designated hitter. He even got into one game in the outfield.
He hit .301 against right-handed pitching but slid to .212 against lefties, however he had no letdown in power, hitting three of his seven homers off southpaws and driving in 14 runs in 66 at-bats, the same percentage (21.2%) of RBIs per at bat as against right-handed pitching.
Despite just playing 44 of the Raptor's 65 games, he finished in the short season's final top 10 in slugging average, on-base plus slugging, hits, home runs and runs batted in. He was also eighth in runs created.
He didn't make any major changes in his swing when he entered the professional ranks. "Manager Mike Brumley and hitting coach Michael Broughton tweaked my batting style a little, and worked on loading my swing before the pitch," he said. It seemed t have worked because he got better as the season went along.
His biggest surprise in professional baseball? "We would come to the park at 1:30 for a 7:30 game," he said. "We didn't do that in college. I found out that no one knows how hard the players work each day before the games are even played."
But hard work doesn't bother him. When we called him for this interview, he was hitting in the batting cage. Complacency will never be a problem for this young man.
Steven Caseres year team ave obp ops gm ab r h 2b 3b hr rbi 2008 Ogden .268 .327 .796 44 170 24 48 11 2 7 38