ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine baseball program has landed its third player from powerhouse Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida. Shortstop Danny Casals has verbally committed to attend Maine on a baseball scholarship beginning in 2015.
Third baseman Danny Diaz and first baseman-third baseman Chris Garabedian will join the program this fall.
The slick-fielding Casals, a junior who was a first-team All Dade County selection, hit .389 this season with a team-leading nine stolen bases. He scored 22 runs, hit one homer and knocked in 10 runs. He walked 20 times and had an impressive on-base percentage of .521.
He hit .390 as a sophomore with eight doubles, seven stolen bases, eight RBIs, 18 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .480.
Casals chose Maine over several other schools including the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Casals said Maine head coach Steve Trimper and his coaching staff played a major role in his decision, he said.
“The coaching staff was real nice. They are real good people. And I really enjoyed my visit,” said Casals, who also toured Bar Harbor on Friday and was impressed.
“[Bar Harbor] is pretty nice. There is plenty to do up here. It was pretty cool,” said Casals, who visited Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.
He noted that having former teammates Diaz and Garabedian at Maine also played a role in his decision.
Casals knows the weather will be much different than he is used to, but he knows if he gets the opportunity to play professional baseball someday, he could wind up playing for a cold-weather team.
“You get sent all over the place in pro ball so you have to get used to the weather,” he said.
“With everything Maine has to offer, I’ll get used to it pretty quickly,” said the 17-year-old.
For his senior year at Columbus, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Casals said he would like to improve his power as he prepares for his college career.
“I’d like to hit more home runs,” said Casals, who is glad he has made his decision on his future.
“The recruiting process is pretty tough. It’s a relief [to have it behind me],” he said.
His participation at UMaine is contingent upon his acceptance into school and compliance with NCAA eligibility requirements.