New Canaan native Curt Casali realized a lifelong dream last week when the Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Most aspiring ballplayers would have been nervous. Casali, however, was anywhere but on the edge of his seat when his name was called. The Vanderbilt University starting catcher was in bed.
"Yeah, I was kind of sleeping," Casali said. "It's been quite a week getting into the College World Series, and I just came back from a workout, so I was pretty tired. But then my teammate [and fellow Connecticut native] Jason Esposito came into my room and jumped on me and started yelling I had been drafted."
The Vanderbilt senior was drafted by the Tigers with the 317th pick overall during the Commodores first-ever run to the College World Series . Though he was focused on his team, Casali admitted the draft had been in the back of his mind.
"I know the kinds of players that get picked. I've played against a lot of them, and I definitely felt I was capable of taking my game to the professional ranks," Casali said. "But at the same time I was kind of in the dark of how high I would get picked. It's very exciting that Detroit took me."
Like his teammate Esposito, Casali's family and friends back in New Canaan were watching the draft closely. Casali got a deluge of congratulatory phone calls, texts and emails from his old stomping grounds.
Casali keeps close ties to his hometown. He followed his younger brother, Andrew, as he made a run with the New Canaan High School baseball team in the state tournament . Casali said his fondest sports memory is when he led the New Canaan High varsity football team to the first of four straight state championships as a quarterback for the Rams.
Although he is focused on his team's showdown Saturday against the University of North Carolina, Casali admitted he is eager to start his professional baseball career. He will not begin contract negotiations with the Tigers until the end of the college season, but the start of his career could bring him back home. Casali will most likely report to Detroit's Short Season-A Level team based in Norwich .
"I would absolutely love to start my pro career there [in Norwich] near my friends and family," he said. "It's always been a dream of mine to play professional baseball, and it's incredible to play in the College World Series. To get both in the same week is pretty special."
Casali was one of 12 Vanderbilt players drafted, the most ever from one team in a single Major League Baseball draft. You can watch Curt and Vanderbilt take on UNC on Saturday on ESPN at 2 p.m.
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