Every few years, a rare athletic talent comes to join the Black Bears. For Maine’s baseball team, first-year infielder Danny Casals is that special player. While a lot of the team has been struggling through their 9-23 season, Casals has found a way to flourish. Though he may be new to Maine’s program, he has all the talent and leadership to one day take the Black Bears to great heights.
“I’ve recruited many ball players over 24 years, and I thought Danny was going to be a special player,” Head Coach Steve Trimper said. “He has all the capabilities of hitting, hitting with power, he can run and he can throw.”
Casals’ baseball journey began at the age of three, where he experienced a family-wide love for the sport. Growing up, he watched both his brother and sister play at the college level, while his father played in the minor leagues. After attending high school in Miami, Casals was persuaded to take his talents to Maine by both Trimper and first-year pitcher Nick Silva.
“I fell in love with the coaching staff,” Casals said. “My roommate is also from my high school, Nick Silva, he was coming over here so I decided if I come this far, I have to come with a friend.”
Despite being new to the team, Casals wasted no time proving to the coaching staff that they made a great choice. As a result of his performance in Maine’s first three game series against Clemson, Casals earned his first America East Rookie of the Week honors. Shortly later, he recorded a four-run game against New Mexico State on Feb. 28. Within no time, Casals was leaving his mark on the team and working his way up the batting order.
“You never really picture it like this, but you always want to come out and compete and try to do the best that you can. I mean, I believe in my ability and I know I can be successful, but it’s always nice to see the results,” Casals said.
While most of the team has been struggling with batting this season, Casals has been the bearer of consistency, tallying at least one hit in 28 of his first 32 games. In addition, he leads the team with 39 hits along with 21 runs, while boasting the team’s second best batting average at .325. Using his speed and ability, he has also shown a knack for stealing bases, as he currently has notched 10 steals this year. Defensively, Casals has forced 28 outs, while accumulating 56 assists. Though he has seen so much personal success, Casals’ focus remains on what the team can accomplish, and his expectations are high.
“We have got to win conference championships, multiple, that’s what we’re here for. Individual accolades are fun, but the ones that we remember the most are the ones where the team wins championships, and we get out to regionals and make a run into the playoffs,” Casals said.
Though the team is facing difficulties right now, it’s entirely possible that Casals can help lead the team to the playoffs in the near future. With a young nucleus that includes Casals, first-year outfielder Colin Ridley and first-year infielder Jeremy Pena, there’s no shortage of young talent. With so much ability, there needs to be a player that can step up to guide the team, and that may just be a role Casals can fill.
“The other thing is that (Casals) is a true leader, like he really doesn’t like to lose. If you’re around us everyday, you watch him command the clubhouse as a freshman, that’s the most impressive thing that you can’t see unless you’re a coach,” Trimper said.
Currently, Casals is studying mass communications in the hopes of being a sports broadcaster after college. But with three great years ahead of him, all eyes will be on Casals’ career as he has the opportunity to develop into the face of Maine’s baseball program.
“I think that bond that he has with the team, and the coaching staff is just going to continue to grow as he goes through a very good career here at Maine,” Trimper said.