Danny Casals, an All-America East first-team selection the last two years at the University of Maine, is going to sign a free-agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers later this week.
Casals wasn’t drafted but was contacted by the major league club last Friday and was offered a contract.
“It came out of the blue,” said Casals, a third baseman who was the Black Bears’ designated hitter most of this season due to a sore throwing shoulder. “I’m super pumped.
“Ever since I first started playing baseball, my dream was to play pro ball. I’m living that dream right now,” Casals said.
Casals admitted that it took longer to receive an offer than he had anticipated but said he is grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s a great organization and they have a great ballclub right now. I’m hoping I can make an impact,” Casals said.
Casals will become the third UMaine player to turn pro after the 2019 season.
Pitcher Cody Laweryson of Moscow, a former standout at Valley High in Bingham, was drafted in the 14th round by the Minnesota Twins. Nick Silva, another right-handed pitcher, was selected in the 40th round by the Chicago White Sox.
Casals has reported to Milwaukee’s minor-league training facility in Phoenix where he will undergo a physical and find out where he will begin his career.
He said his shoulder has healed and he is excited to start playing.
Casals previously had a workout with the Atlanta Braves and was in contact with some other teams before the Brewers offered him a contract.
The Miami native hit .282 this season for the Black Bears and led the team in runs scored (40), walks (27) and stolen bases (11). He was second in home runs (8), total bases (85), on-base percentage (.399) and slugging percentage (.500).
He had a career batting average of .292 in 179 games.
In 2018, Casals batted .304 and led the team in homers (14), runs batted in (49), walks (32), on-base percentage (.407) and slugging percentage (.597). The America East all-tourney selection also shared the team lead in total bases with 108.
Casals was chosen to the league All-Rookie team in 2016 when he hit a team-leading .310 and was also tops in hits (62), triples (4), stolen bases (12) and on-base percentage (.404).
He played in only 25 games his sophomore year due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Casals said he continued to work out after the season to stay in shape and he is prepared to play any infield position.
“I don’t think I have to focus on too many things. I just want to try to be on the field every day and if I can do that, I’ll have a good chance to be successful,” Casals said.
He is confident he can move up the ladder in the Brewers organization and said his four years at UMaine were beneficial.
“The University of Maine helped me become the type of player I am today,” Casals said. “Coach [Nick] Derba prepared us [for pro ball]. Pro baseball is more than just trying to hit a ball far.”
Derba, who reached the AAA level, taught the Black Bears about the dynamics of being a pro.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Casals said he has gone from playing baseball in cold weather in Maine, to being super hot in Phoenix.
“Hopefully, someday I’ll be back in cold weather in Milwaukee,” Casals quipped.