Starting catcher Ryan Hanigan's oblique strain is sending him to the disabled list, retroactive to July 9th. In response, the Rays have finally purchased the contract of Curt Casali from Triple-A Durham.
A guy John Sickels described as, "one of the most interesting sleeper prospects in baseball," and a potential mainstay in the Rays catching tandem, Casali started the year in Double-A Montgomery by posting a 176 wRC+ through 96 plate appearances, then found himself promoted yet again.
The aggressive move has not materialized in offense at the highest minor league level thus far (just a 95 wRC+ in 183 PA's), but the Rays seem content to keep moving him up the ladder. Casali is the only real depth the Rays have in the upper minors, so his performance will be important to monitor.
Casali's bat should project in the majors over the long run, but during his promotion, I will be most interested to see how well he works with the pitchers, and how quick his arm action is against the run.
Michael gave a deep dive on Casali in the off-season, and these were his marks on Casali's defense:
All of his hitting would matter very little if Casali didn't play the most premium defensive position on the spectrum: catcher. Once a stellar catcher at Vanderbilt, he has since settled into the title of a solid defensive catcher. Tommy John surgery while in college wiped out much of his plus arm strength, and after throwing out 33% of basestealers in 2012, the rate dipped to 25% in 2013. Baseball America's report on him, however, notes that he made improvements with the Rays coaches, and that he should throw out more runners as his technique continues to improve. Elsewhere in the catching department, Casali grades out as average to above average. He reportedly works well with pitchers, he is considered an above average receiver, and he does well to block pitches in the dirt. So while he won't be a weapon behind the plate, Casali brings enough defensive chops to not be a liability either.
To learn more about the prospect, read Michael's 1325 word write up here.
As a procedural note, in another corresponding move: the Rays sent outfielder Wil Myers to the 60-day DL. The Rays rode great performances from Kevin Kiermaier, Logan Forsythe, and Brandon Guyer through the weeks headed into the All-Star Break and are no longer last in the division.
It's time to swarm, and hopefully Casali can be another young Rays player to step up in that trend.
We’re going to have to be ready on a nightly basis. No mulligans left, but if we can keep our current vibe, we’re going to make some noise.— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) July 17, 2014