The Detroit Tigers saw big things when they drafted Curt Casali in the 10th Round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
But they never could have imagined what they saw Monday night in Tampa.
Casali—who was traded from the Tigers to the Rays while still in the minors in 2013 for pitcher Kyle Lobstein—hit two home runs against his former parent franchise, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 win over the Tigers at Tropicana Field.
The 2007 New Canaan High School graduate finished the night going 3-for-4 at the plate with 3 RBI and two runs scored. His first homer of the night was a tape-measure shot off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez to give the Rays a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. After hitting a single in the sixth inning, Casali blasted a two-run shot in the eighth—this time off hard-throwing Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon—giving Tampa a 5-2 lead.
After the big night, Casali’s average shot up to .261 on the season with five HR’s and eight RBI. It was his third consecutive start behind the plate for Tampa, the first time Casali has made three straight starts at catcher all season, including his time spent at Triple-A Durham prior to his June 13th promotion to the majors.
“I always felt that if he was given a chance to play regularly, he would hit,” former New Canaan High School baseball head coach Mark Rearick told NewCanaanite.com after watching the game from his North Carolina home. Rearick coached Casali during his years at NCHS, winning an FCIAC title together in 2006. “He’s terrific defensively, as the Rays announcers iterated frequently tonight as their pitchers bounced pitch after pitch in the dirt. He is such a great kid, hard worker and very smart. Couldn’t be happening to a better guy.”
After the game, Casali’s Tampa Bay teammates doused him in a Gatorade bath, capping off an unforgettable night for the young backstop. But for Casali, it wasn’t about himself.
“Ice baths usually mean we win,” Casali told Fox Sports broadcaster Todd Kalas. “So that’s a good thing.”