Name: Alexi Casilla
DOB: July 20, 1984
The Minnesota Twins picked up Alexi Casilla in the J.C. Romero trade last off-season, and he has since gone on to become one of the Twins future middle infielders. He displayed great batting prowess in 2006, making his way from High-A, all the way to the Major Leagues. By the middle of this season, Casilla could be back with the Twins.
Casilla started his professional career as a member of the Anaheim Angels Dominican Summer League team, batting .298 in 33 games. He swiped an amazing 28 bases in only 33 games, and had an on base percentage on .398.
In 2004, Casilla was originally assigned to Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League, though he appeared in only nine games. He spent most of the season in Rookie League, playing for both the Angels of the Arizona League, and Provo of the Pioneer League. The 2004 season would be his last season of Rookie League ball, as he really began to take off in 2005.
He began the 2005 season in Double-A, playing for Arkansas of the Texas League. He appeared in only seven games before being promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he batted .256 in 13 games. He would finish the year in the Midwest League once again, playing in 78 games while batting .325. He swiped 40 bases combined that year, which would be his last with the Anaheim Angels organization.
Coming into the 2006 season, Casilla was slated to start the season with Double-A New Britain. However, a tough spring would lead to him opening the year with the Fort Myers Miracle, where he absolutely pestered Florida State League pitchers. He hit .331 for the Fort in 78games, stealing 31 bases, while compiling 56 runs.
He would receive a promotion to Double-A New Britain mid-way through the season, appearing in 45 games for the Rock Cats. He once again showed a great batting eye, batting .298 in his first taste of the Eastern League, while swiping 20 bags. The Twins saw enough of Casilla to promote him to the big leagues for the rest of the 2006 season, and he showed he can play at the Major League level.
For the Twins, Casilla batted .250 in nine games, and he scored his first Major League run. He showed a great defensive prowess in the field, and even drew two walks during his time in Minnesota. He had a .500 on base percentage, and really opened the door for himself to be considered the Twins future at second base.
For his efforts, Casilla was named Twin Minor League Player of the Year, and it was well deserved.
In 2007, look for Casilla to open the year with the Rochester Red Wings, where hell be at the top of the order. Casilla is a .306 lifetime batter in the Minor Leagues, and will be counted on to be a table-setter for the Wings in 2007.
Batting and Power: Casilla is a great hitter, who has an above-average batting eye. He is a very pesky hitter, who uses the whole field to rack up base hits. He is also great at making clutch hits, and really working counts. He is a fantastic bunter, who uses his speed to get on base early and often in games. He does not have great power, hitting only four home runs during his professional career, but he does have decent gap power, and can easily turn a single into a double if the ball finds the gaps.
Baserunning and Speed: Casilla has plus-speed, and he is never afraid to use it. He is a great guy to have at the top of the order, and can be a real pest when he gets on. He has average nearly a stolen base every other game during his professional career, and is usually given the green light when he is on base. He is the kind of runner who turns doubles into triples, and he is a very heady base runner. He rarely makes a mistake on the base paths, and may be the best overall base runner in the Twins organization.
Defense: Casilla is a great defensive middle infielder, and he showed flashes of brilliance when he was recalled to the Major Leagues in 2006. He has the ability to play both shortstop, and second base, and really does not give up much when he goes to the left side of the infield. He has a good arm for second base, and seems to make tough plays look routine at times.
ETA. 2007. Casilla will be back with the Minnesota Twins at some point during the 2007 season, it is only a matter of when. Current Twins second baseman Luis Castillo has been bitten by the injury bug often during his career, and Manager Ron Gardenhire will not hesitate to recall Casilla if he needs a middle infielder this season. He has shown that he can play at that level, and if he takes over for Castillo, it may be for good, as Castillo will be a free agent after the 2007 season.