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Raúl Casanova

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2002 Upper Deck 40-Man #549 Raul Casanova

Raúl Casanova

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[edit] Biographical Information

Raúl Casanova is a catcher who played 9 seasons in the major leagues.

Raúl was drafted 220th overall, in the eighth round of the 1990 amateur draft by the New York Mets. His professional career started off that year, and it was not impressive - in 5 at-bats, he collected only five hits for a .077 batting average. His 1991 season was almost just as bad - in 18 at-bats with the Kingsport Mets, he collected one hit for a .056 batting average. In 32 games with the Gulf Coast League Mets that year, he hit .243.

His 1992 season was a definite improvement. In 137 at-bats with Kingsport that year, not only did he hit his first professional home run, but he also hit .270. He hit only .167 in 18 at-bats with the Columbia Mets that year though. After the 1992 season, he was traded with Wally Whitehurst and D.J. Dozier to the San Diego Padres for Tony Fernandez. That trade might have saved his previous unstellar professional career. He spent the whole of 1993 with the Waterloo Diamonds, and he hit .256 with six home runs in 76 games.

Then, in 1994, he had the best season of his professional career. Playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, his batting average soared to .340, and he also blasted 23 home runs and drove in 120 runs. Because of his outstanding performance, he was named the Padres Minor League Player of the Year. He was also a California League All-Star.

It would be nearly impossible to follow up a season like 1994 with an identical one the next year. In 1995, Casanova saw his average drop to .271, but he did hit 12 home runs while with the Memphis Chicks. He was playing in Double-A baseball, higher than he had ever played before. According to Baseball America, he was the 60th best prospect in baseball in 1995. After the 1995 season, he was traded with Richie Lewis and Melvin Nieves to the Detroit Tigers for Sean Bergman, Todd Steverson and minor leaguer Cade Gaspar.

He started 1996 with a bang, hitting .333 in 30 at-bats with the Jacksonville Suns. That prompted his promotion to class Triple-A, where he hit .273 in 49 games. He made his Major League debut on May 24 of that year at the age of 23, going 0-for-4 in his debut game. He collected his first hit on May 27 off pitcher Tim Belcher. Two days later, in his very next game, he hit his first career home run, a solo shot off Kevin Appier. Overall, he played 25 games for the Tigers that year, hitting .188 with four home runs and nine RBI. He accomplished a rare feat in 1996 - in one game, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate.

Casanova was the Tigers' main starting catcher in 1997, although Matt Walbeck also got a fair amount of playing time. In 101 games with Detroit that year, Raúl hit .243 with five home runs and 24 RBI. Of all the players on the team who appeared in over 100 games, he was the only one not to collect 40 or more RBI. He also spent some time in the minors, hitting .195 in 12 games with the Toledo Mud Hens.

He started 1998 as the team's starting catcher, but after collecting only two hits in his first 13 games, he was sent down to Toledo. In 50 games with Toledo that year, he hit .257. He was called back to the Majors in July of that year, but only played three more games in the big leagues. Overall, he hit only .143 in 16 games with the Tigers that year, his season cut short by an injury.

He spent all of 1999 in the minor leagues, playing as low as Rookie League baseball on a rehabilitation assignment. In two games with the GCL Tigers, he collected four hits (including a home run) in five at-bats for a .800 batting average. In 12 at-bats with Class-A Advanced Lakeland, he hit .500, hitting another home run. He really struggled while with AAA Toledo - he spent 44 games with them and hit only .206. He was granted free agency after the season and was signed by the Colorado Rockies. He was released by them before the beginning of the 2000 season and was then picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. Casanova, Henry Blanco and Tyler Houston all spent time catching for the Brewers in 2000. He hit .247 with six home runs (including two grand slams) and 36 RBI for the Brewers that year. He also hit .288 in 20 games with the Indianapolis Indians.

He was the Brewers' main back-up catcher in 2001, backing up Blanco. He had a career year that year, belting a career-high 11 home runs and hitting a career-high .260 in 71 games. Also, for the first time in his career, he did not spend any time in the minors. However, 2002 was a bad season for Casanova. He started off with the Brewers, but after hitting only .184 in 31 games with them he was released and quickly signed by the Baltimore Orioles. He only played two games with them that year, collecting no hits in one at-bat. Overall, he hit .182, with one home run and eight RBI. He spent 14 games with Indianapolis as well and hit .279 with them.

Raúl played in five different farm systems between 2003 and 2005, actually playing fairly impressively. He played for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and Ottawa Lynx in 2003, hitting .301 while with the Sky Sox, in the Rockies' farm system, and .286 with the Lynx, in the Orioles' farm system. Signed as a free agent by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, he hit .270 in 23 games with their Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, before being sent to the Kansas City Royals as part of a conditional deal. In 58 games with their Triple-A team, the Omaha Royals, he hit an outstanding .323 with 10 home runs.

Even after a great performance in their system, Casanova was released by the Royals and then signed by the Chicago White Sox. He spent 70 games with their Triple-A team, the Charlotte Knights, before getting called up to the Majors in the latter part of the 2005 season. In six games with the White Sox, he collected one hit in five at-bats for a .200 batting average. He was granted free agency once again and was signed by the Oakland Athletics. He played in a total of eight minor league games in 2006, hitting .265 in 34 at-bats. He spent time with three teams: he played two games with the Stockton Ports, two games with the Midland RockHounds and four games with the Sacramento River Cats.

In 2007, Casanova played with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He slammed 6 home runs in only 79 at bats, drove in 11 runs, and has a slugging percentage of .519. He began the 2008 season back with his first organization - the New York Mets and hit .273 in 20 games, playing his last major league game on June 8. he then finished the year as a back-up catcher with the New Orleans Zephyrs, hitting .295 in 44 games. He finished his professional career with a season in the Mexican League in 2009, where he hit .293 in 95 games for Quintana Roo and Reynosa. He played for Puerto Rico in the 2009 Baseball World Cup and was still active in winter ball in the 2010 Caribbean Series.

Once heralded by Tiger General Manager Randy Smith as a franchise "cornerstone", one site said about him: "He has good gap power and occasionally pokes it out of the park. Defensively, Casanova is below average. Needs more experience against lefties. Once a top prospect, now he's lucky to get a few at-bats a year in the majors." [1]

His career statistics are only marginally of major league caliber: In 387 career games, he had a batting average of .236 with 35 home runs and 130 RBI. Statistically, he is most related to Jerry Moses. He spent six seasons with Greg Keagle as a teammate - longer than any other teammate.

At last check, Casanova lived in Miami, Florida.

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