Vanderbilt University is a unique place and the school's baseball program is no different. Every fall and winter, former Commodores from all levels of professional baseball return to Hawkins Field to work with the VU coaching staff and prepare for next season. As spring training nears, we're catching up with the former Dores to talk about baseball life after the Black & Gold.
Mike Baxter has been a pro since being drafted in the fourth round by the San Diego Padres in 2004. But the New York native is now living a boyhood dream playing for his hometown New York Mets. Baxter's 2012 season had a speed bump after the outfielder injured his shoulder making a diving catch to save Johan Santana's no-hitter against St. Louis. Baxter is already in Port St. Lucie, Fla. where the Mets are scheduled to open up spring training this week.
Curt Casali was a staple behind the plate for the Commodores' 2011 College World Series squad. The backstop was part of the Dores' record-breaking 12-man draft class in 2011 when he was a 10th round pick by Detroit. Casali split his first full year of pro ball with two teams in the Tigers' system - West Michigan and Lakeland. With the White Caps, Casali played in 48 games before being promoted to Lakeland. The Flying Tigers captured the Florida State League title at the end of the season. Casali also played with two former Dores along the way, teaming up with Aaron Westlake in West Michigan and Drew VerHagen in Lakeland. For the second straight year, Casali received an invitation to major league spring training camp and is already in Lakeland, Fla. with the Tigers.