It hasn’t been a great year for Ryan Hanigan, who has seen subpar performance and now his second stint on the 15-day DL per Marc Topkin. This time it was for a strained oblique, which he could not heal despite 4 days of rest over the All-Star break. The move is retroactive to July 9th, meaning Hanigan could return as early as the 24th. In his stead, Curt Casali will receive his first big league action, also according to Topkin. To make room for Casali on the 40-man roster, Wil Myers has been moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Hanigan hasn’t been the offensive upgrade that the Rays thought he would be, as he is hitting just .212/.309/.327 this season. Likewise his defense has fallen off, as he has thrown out just 27% of runners this season, a career low and an 18% decrease from last season. Still, Hanigan is a leader of the pitching staff, and the Rays will miss him because of that. His ability to get on base despite not having a high average is also a quality that the Rays will miss. Even if his numbers haven’t been great, Hanigan is the type of competitor and leader that you never want to lose from a team.
The Rays had the option to choose between the defensive minded Ali Solis or a more well-rounded catcher in Casali. The Rays chose Solis when Hanigan was hurt the first time around, but this time they decided Casali was their best bet. After hitting .317/.405/.489 between High-A and Double-A in 2013, Casali started things off this season by hitting .314/.500/.429 in his frist 22 games back at Double-A this year, earning himself a promotion. At Triple-A his bat has taken a hit, as his line has fallen to .237/.335/.359. In the big leagues his average and power will likely never be anything special. But, he will always draw his fair share of walks, and he will do just fine at the plate, especially considering that he is a catcher. Defensively, Casali has good athleticism and receiving skills. But despite decent caught stealing numbers in the minors, he has a below-average arm, and that will hurt him in the big leagues. All-in-all Casali has the skills to be a good backup or a fringe-starter at catcher, and he will get his first shot to prove his worth with this call-up.
You never want to see a guy like Ryan Hanigan get hurt, but when one door closes another door opens. Curt Casali has been working his whole life to get to this point, and that work is finally being rewarded. The Rays are fortunate to have a capable player in Casali to fill in , and we will have to see if he can make the most of his first opportunity.