The Tampa Bay Rays promoted catcher Curt Casali to the major leagues last weekend. Casali is one of our Sleeper Alert players from pre-season, so it is nice to see him make the big leagues. He hasn't played much yet, just 1-for-9 in two games, but we should see him inhabiting major league rosters for the next decade.
Casali was a 10th round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt, drafted by the Detroit Tigers. He was renowned for his defensive skills in college, although he had to have Tommy John surgery and lost much of his arm strength as a result. His release is still reasonably quick but due to the injury he is not outstanding at throwing out runners, 31% this year and 31% in his career. Despite that, the rest of his defensive game is impressive. He is a polished and mobile receiver, gives up few passed balls, seldom makes errors, and has a strong reputation as a field leader and anchor for the pitching staff.
His glovework will keep him around, but the bat will determine if he starts or is just a reserve. He's proven extremely effective in Double-A, where he hit .358/.490/.537 with 16 doubles, six homers, 44 walks, and just 34 strikeouts in 241 plate appearances over the last two years. He did not carry this forward to Triple-A, where he hit .237/.335/.359 with 10 doubles, three homers, 22 walks, and 50 strikeouts in 156 at-bats for Durham before his promotion. From what I've seen he's rather streaky, hitting like an All-Star at times but also having long cold spells. He does show a decent batting eye, and similar players have shown surprising offensive growth in their late 20s.
Casali isn't a sure-fire fantasy investment, although he's worth keeping an eye on and it is always fun when the sleeper guys reach the Show.