Casey Richard Close
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 186 lb.
- School University of Michigan
Casey Close had two productive seasons in AAA after being a college star, but never made the majors and eventually made his name as a player agent.
Close hit .440 with 19 home runs for the University of Michigan in 1986, where he had future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin's roommate. He was 12th in NCAA Division I in average and tied for 21st in homers, even with Dave Hollins and Chris Hoiles among others. Close also had 15 steals, 68 runs and 72 RBI. He was named a first-team All-American outfielder by both Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association, beating out Albert Belle and Paul Sorrento among others. He was also named the Baseball America Player of the Year, beating out Robin Ventura, Greg Swindell, Matt Williams, Jeff King, Jack McDowell and George Canale among other All-Americans.
Close fell to the 7th round of the 1986 amateur draft before the New York Yankees chose him; the next round, they take Hal Morris. Casey had a rough pro debut with the 1986 Oneonta Yankees, hitting .245/~.313/.382 though his 38 RBI led the club, beating out future major leaguer regulars Jim Leyritz, Morris, Kevin Maas and Turner Ward.
In 1987, Close batted .279/~.315/.379 for the Albany Yankees, jumping straight to AA from low-A. The Ohio native split 1988 between Albany (.169/.207/.221 in 25 G) and the AAA Columbus Clippers (.188/.257/.300 in 81 G). His outfield mates in Columbus were often Morris and Ward, who had joined him in his climb up the ladder.
The former Michigan superstar was with the 1989 Calgary Cannons, a Seattle Mariners affiliate. He hit .330/~.397/.503 to outperform outfield mates Mike Kingery and Mickey Brantley; Jay Buhner had a lower average but more power while Bruce Fields led the Pacific Coast League in average. Had he qualified, Close would have ranked 4th in the league in average.
In 1990, Close ended his career as a player by hitting .270/.326/.430 with 30 doubles, 71 runs, 69 RBI and 15 steals in 21 tries for Calgary. He had 12 outfield assists, tied for 6th in the PCL.
He later became a player agent and head of the baseball division of CAA Sports with clients including Derek Jeter, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Zach Greinke and Ben Sheets. He was particularly active before the 2014 season, negotiating a huge contract extension for pitcher Clayton Kershaw and handling the negotiations that brough Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to the United States, alongside deals for P Homer Bailey and 1B Freddie Freeman which both topped $100 million. He oversees player agents Jeff Berry, Nez Balelo, Greg Landry, Joe Urbon and Brodie Van Wagenen. Close is married to Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson, who was voted Miss America in 1989.
- Bob Nightengale: "Agent's style, savvy lead to $700M offseason", USA Today Sports, March 17, 2014.