Casas is always prepared and ready
Although things have not come easy for Jordan Casas, nobody can say that the Indians 40th-round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft is not prepared for his opportunity.
In his time with the organization, the 5’11”, 180 pound outfielder, who attended Long Beach State University, has played everywhere from Mahoning Valley to Akron and each place in between.
“It is definitely difficult because you’re moving around,” said Casas. “You’re constantly traveling, but that’s part of the game and you have to get used to it. [That said,] it is definitely nice to experience different places.”
The left-handed hitter has carved out a home in the Lake County outfield this season, appearing in 28 of the 33 games he has played with Lake County. In 102 at bats, Casas is hitting .245 with no home runs and five RBI. He has also stolen four bases, while posting a .297 on-base percentage.
One of the difficulties this season for Casas has been the lack of every day playing time in the crowded Lake County outfield. However, as with the other challenges he has encountered, the Danville, CA. native has attempted to make the most out of his opportunity.
“I just go about my business as usual even though I am not playing every day,” said Casas of his role on the Captains. “I get to the ball park and go about my work as if I am playing that day and that’s my game time. You are working every day and just trying to get better.”
Lake County manager Dave Wallace has no problem working Casas into the logjam that is the Captains’ outfield, highlighting him as one of the most dependable guys on the roster.
“Whatever we ask him to do, wherever we ask him to play…or hit in the order…he is going to go out there and be ready to play that night,” said Wallace. “He is going to give you his best effort and that’s very nice to have. A guy with his athletic ability, it’s fun to write him in the line-up.”
If the past is any indication, the most recent hurdle placed in front of Casas will be another he vaults with ease.
He described himself as “an athletic person” at Palma High School, where he also played quarterback and running back on the football field. It was at Parma High when his injuries first began, marking the initial hurdle on his path to professional baseball.
“I have gone through a lot that I fell like other players haven’t gone through,” said Casas of his injury problems. “It is a grind and it teaches me not to take anything for granted.”
However, the early-onset of injuries did not prevent Casas from signing with Long Beach State University out of high school.
“I learned so much there,” the outfielder said of his time in college. “They made you understand the game, certain situations from how to run the bases properly to how to bunt. It definitely made me more of a complete player going to college to develop my skills.”
Drawing on those lessons, the outfielder made a splash on scout’s radars after his sophomore season as a Dirtbag. In 47 games, 45 of which he started, he batted .308, good for fourth on the squad, with 25 RBI and a team-leading 22 stolen bases.
“I wanted to sign after my sophomore year, but I chose to go to the Cape instead,” said Casas.
He continued to play eye-catching baseball for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2009. With the club, Casas batted .301 with ten stolen bases, carrying over the momentum he built after a successful sophomore campaign.
Yet, just when Casas thought he was ready to bring his game to another level, the injury bug bit again.
“I had a good summer and then I had an injury,” said Casas, recounting the one thing that has seemed to hold him back throughout his career.
His batting average was certainly one thing that suffered during his redshirt junior season. The outfielder only batted .264 in 43 games, although he belted the first four home runs of his collegiate career and knocked in 20 runs. Yet, perhaps the most telling aspect of the season was the fact that Casas only stole four bases in seven attempts.
Although the hurdles seemed higher than ever, Casas found a way, and an opportunity, to vault everything that was in his path. That opportunity presented itself when the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 40th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
“I got back [to Long Beach State] and had a really bad year,” said Casas. “[The Indians] still took a chance on me so I was grateful for that opportunity.”
Casas knows that opportunities such as that only come around every once in a while. Therefore, personally, he feels it is his duty to be prepared for whatever baseball throws his way.
“[I am] somebody who just goes about his business and works hard every day,” said Casas when asked how he would describe himself as a baseball player. “You have to stay prepared. Right now, I am just waiting for my opportunity.”
As he prepares for whatever the future holds, Jordan Casas has settled into being the elder statesman around the Lake County clubhouse.
“There are definitely a lot of young kids in this clubhouse,” said the 24-year old Casas. “It’s fun to joke with them and kind of be that guy like ‘I’m the old man around here.’”
Even though Casas was hesitant to describe himself as a leader, his manager Dave Wallace had no such issue.
“He’s the guy that other guys are drawn towards because of his professionalism and his personality,” said Wallace of his 24 year-old outfielder. “He is no doubt a leader on this team and I am glad that he is.”
Although he may be the old man, it does not mean that Casas feels any sort of divide between himself and his teammates. In fact, he says that relationships have been the one takeaway from his time with the Indians’ organization.
“I have met so many people and made great relationships,” said Casas.
Amongst those relationships have been the ones he has made with his fellow Californians, seven of whom play for Lake County.
“It definitely breeds some friendly rivalries,” said the outfielder of the Californian contingent within the clubhouse. “The West Coast people talk some trash to the East Coast and the Midwest guys, but in the end it’s all just fun and games.”
Opportunities are hard to come by in the minor leagues, and Casas will always be ready for the challenge of a new opportunity.
He will be ready because he takes nothing for granted. He will be ready because he brings energy and hustle to any team he is on. He will be ready because he prepares himself on a daily basis for the day the opportunity does present itself.