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Player Profile: Casey Blake

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Vital Statistics
Full Name: William Casey Blake
Born: 8-23-1973
Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 lbs
College: Wichita State
Positions: RF, LF, 1B, 3B

Baseball Statistics

MLB.com Hardball Times
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball-Reference
Fangraphs
Baseball Cube (minors)

Service Time/Contract Status

Service Time: 4.138
Options: None

  1. $3.75M
  2. Arbitration
  3. Free Agent

Background

Casey Blake didn't turn pro until after his senior season at Wichita State, and like most college seniors faced an uphill battle making it to the majors. Of course, a poor showing in Florida State League at age 24 didn't help matters. But Blake rebounded the next season, hittig .350/.409/.547 for Dunedin and earned a midseason promotion to Knoxville, Toronto's AA affiliate, where he continued to mash, posting a 1.070 OPS in 172 at-bats.

Now keep in mind that Blake was 25 when he posted these numbers, so an impartial observer would note Blake's age and hold off annointing Blake a top prospect until he faced more advanced competition.  Blake didn't fare as well in Syracuse, hitting a  respectable but unimpressive .245/.357/.468. He did get a cup of coffee in September, where hit .256/.293/.385 in 39 at-bats.

Blake went back to Syracuse in 2000, for Toronto had 26-year-old Tony Batista, who they had acquired last summer, as their third baseman of the future. The Minnesota Twins claimed Blake off waivers in May, but Blake entered an even more difficult organization, for 27-year-old Corey Koskie had established himself as Minnesota's full-time third baseman. Blake hit well at Salt Lake City and got himself another late-season callup.

2001 was much the same for Blake, only this time he spent his summer in Edmonton. He was claimed off waivers late in the year by Baltimore, and he  appeared in 6 games. The Twins re-claimed him after the season. 2002 went much the same way, with Blake hitting well (.309/.383/.492) but hopelessly blocked by Koskie at the major-league level. At this point, Blake had completed his age-29 season, and hadn't really gotten a shot at the major-league. And who would be willing to give a 30-year-old rookie a starting job?  

After the season, Blake was granted minor-league free agency (he had been outrighted off the 40-man roster in May), so he signed with the rebuilding Cleveland Indians. Travis Fryman had just retired, and payroll was such that signing a veteren replacement was unlikely. His competition that spring was Greg LaRocca, another non-roster invitee. Blake won the job, and LaRocca was last seen playing in Japan.

Blake held onto the third base job, providing the young Indians team with affordable production through the 2003 and 2004 season. He hit .271/.354/.486 in 2004, and signed a multi-year that winter. He moved to the outfield the following season to make room for Aaron Boone, and while Boone didn't work, Blake's position change did. Casey's defense at the hot corner took a nosedive in 2004, and even though his bat was nonexistant during the 2005 season, he was a much better defensive player in the outfield.

Transactions

6-92: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies (11th Round) - Did not sign, enrolled at Wichita State
6-95: Drafted by the New York Yankees (45th Round) - Did not sign, returned for senior season at Wichita State
6-96: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays (7th Round) - Signed, Assigned to Hagerstown (A-)
8-14-99: Recalled to Toronto (MLB Debut)
8-30-99: Optioned to St. Catherines (AA)
9-3-99: Recalled to Toronto
Started 2000 in Syracuse (AAA)
5-23-00: Claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins; Assigned to Salt Lake City(AAA)
6-28-00: Placed on AAA Disabled List (rib cage)
7-7-00: Reinstated from Disabled List (AAA)
9-16-00: Recalled to Minnesota
Started 2001 in Edmonton (AAA)
6-7-01: Recalled to Minnesota
7-20-01: Optioned to Edmonton (AAA)
9-21-01: Claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles
10-12-01: Claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins
Started 2002 in Edmonton (AAA)
5-10-02: Recalled by Minnesota
5-24-02: Outrighted to Edmonton (AAA)
10-15-02: Declared minor-league free agent
12-18-02: Signed a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians; Invited to Spring Training
3-29-03: Contract Purchased and Recalled to Cleveland
3-04: 2004 Contract Renewed
1-05: Signed a two-year extension (2005-06) with a 2007 team option
6-16-06: Placed on 15-Day Disabled List (oblique)
7-13-06: Reinstated from 15-Day Disabled List
8-8-06: Placed on 15-Day Disabled List (ankle)
8-25-06: Reinstated from 15-Day Disabled List
10-3-06: 2007 Option Exercised

Offense

Blake is a patient hitter; his P/PA has been over 4 the past three seasons. He usually has to pull the ball to hit it out of the park, but he'll use the entire field. Blake seems to guess a lot, leading to a lot of swings and misses. He seems more comfortable against junkballers than power pitchers, though I don't have any way of checking it. He doesn't have much of a platoon split, hitting righties and lefties with similar aptitude.

Defense

Blake has probably extended his career by moving to the outfield. He doesn't have a quick first step, but makes up for it by his fine route running. He's started to make catches on sinking line drives using a slide, and has become rather proficient at it. As a converted third baseman, his arm is a natural fit in right; his throws are strong and accurate.

Baserunning

Blake has average speed; he's not much of a threat stealing bases, but can go first to third and first to home rather easily. He generally makes good decisions on the basepaths.

2007 Outlook

Blake should play mostly in the outfield, preferably right field, although offseason moves and an organziational glut in the outfield may push him into more time at third or first.