Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 10th Round
Ranking History: #59 (2011)
Casali was part of a recent trend for the Tigers as the team continues to pop Vanderbilt players in the draft. A tenth round pick, Casali was viewed as a bit of a sleeper in the draft following a strong career at Vandy.
After signing, Casali debuted with Connecticut and hit .278/.409/.417 in ten games with the CT Tigers. He was promoted to West Michigan for the remainder of the year and seemed to wear down, hitting just .227 in 25 games with the ‘Caps.
The Tigers returned Casali to West Michigan to start the 2012 season and he raked until the moment he was promoted to High-A Lakeland this month. In 48 games Casali batted .288/.402/.500 with 12 doubles and eight home runs.
Scouts are mixed on Casali's ultimate ceiling but there are many attributes on which they agree. He has good physicality and what many consider an ideal catcher's body.
Casali is a solid receiver that continues to improve behind the plate. He blocks balls in the dirt well, receives pitches on the edges of the zone well and calls a good game. His pitchers like working with him and he commands the infield and the game with ease. He is a good leader both vocally and through demonstration.
His catch-and-throw skills can get a little wobbly at times, but he typically turns in sub-2.0 pop times. There are instances where his footwork gets a little quick and this throws sail. His arm is a legit plus tool. Casali has the ability to control the running game and should be an overall above-average defender with a chance to be a plus backstop.
Casali has experience as a first baseman as well, having played the position extensively during his sophomore season due to an arm injury.
At the plate Casali continues to evolve. He has always demonstrated a good approach in the batter's box but he has refined his command of the strike zone as a professional and now consistently works deep counts and has limited the amount of times he chases pitches out of the zone.
Casali's swing is a longer, pull-oriented swing with average bat speed. When he gets the bat to the zone on time he can drive the ball very well from center field to the left field line. Some scouts believe he gets a little late with his trigger and is unable to catch up because he lacks the quick swing and bat speed to make up the difference.
Casali is a decent hitter but his pull-oriented approach to hitting does limit his ceiling. When he goes the other way it is generally without much thump. Casali has the potential to be a below-average to fringe-average hitter with average power down the line.
Like most catchers, Casali is a below-average runner. He is an intelligent base runner and can still take an extra base when the opportunity presents.
Like many of the Tigers recent draft picks, Casali is considered a high character guy with exceptional makeup. He is a tireless worker on and off the field. He is considered a good teammate and can be an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
With solid offensive projection and the potential for above-average defense, Casali has a profile as a big league catcher. Depending on how much one values the bat, Casali could profile as a solid second-division starter. His floor is higher than most and he should reach the big leagues as a backup catcher at a minimum.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
Casali tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during the 2009 season at Vanderbilt. He waited until after the season to have Tommy John surgery and then returned to the field the following year. Aside from that, Casali has had only minor injuries, including some hamstring trouble, throughout his career.
Having already moved on to High-A Lakeland, Casali is on a quick track through the system. He is a polished player both offensively and defensively and he could probably compete very well at Double-A right now.
With Alex Avila, Rob Brantly and James McCann ahead of him on the depth chart, Casali will have to perform well to continue rising through the system at a rapid pace. He has a strong combination of offensive and defensive ability, with his defense providing his carrying tools, and he has a chance to be a very nice second-division starter or excellent right-handed complement to someone like Avila or Brantly.
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