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Pro baseball: Saugus grad Stevenson is finding a way to stick around in the game

Posted: July 23, 2013 9:31 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2013 9:31 p.m.

Saugus graduate Casey Stevenson is playing for the Double-A Trenton Thunder in the New York Yankees organization. He's been with organization since 2010 when he was drafted in the 25th round out of UC Irvine.

 

There’s a place in the game of baseball for a guy who isn’t a star, but can do everything.

Ask Saugus High graduate Casey Stevenson.

The former Centurions, College of the Canyons and UC Irvine infielder is in his fourth season in the New York Yankees organization.

He plays for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

And a reason for this longevity and a continued climb up the organizational ladder has been his willingness and ability to play wherever Trenton or past teams have needed him.

“Casey doesn’t have plus-plus tools, but there’s a place in the game for him,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “As a Hollywood producer once said, ‘There’s a part for everybody,’ and Casey fits in a lot of parts.”

The 25-year-old, 2006 Saugus High graduate is batting a regular .242 with one run home run and 14 RBIs in 43 games for the Thunder.

But not all baseball players can be measured by statistics alone.

In 2013, Stevenson’s first year playing in Double-A, he has started at third base, shortstop, second base, first base, right field and left field.

Franklin said he wouldn’t try to have Stevenson play all nine positions for fear of hurting his player.

That’s not to say that Stevenson would object based off his history.

“My first year with the Yankees (organization), I played second base only. My second year in the spring I worked at other positions, showing I can do other things,” Stevenson said. “They wanted me to be that kind of player because they had a need for it, and I wanted to be that player.”

It’s a versatility that’s not only beneficial to Stevenson’s present, but also to his future.

He’s not a power hitter and not a speed guy.

However, from his days at Saugus High, he was a contact hitter and a reliable player with the glove.

Stevenson was a two-time All-Foothill League and All-Santa Clarita Valley player at Saugus and was an All-Western State Conference player at College of the Canyons, where he set the school record with 75 hits in 2007.

In 2010, Stevenson was drafted out of UC Irvine in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Last season was Stevenson’s best in professional baseball, batting .300 with five home runs and 37 RBIs for Low-A Charleston.

That helped earn him a leap to Trenton, but it’s been an odd journey for Stevenson this year.

He was sent down to High-A Tampa this year, as well as called up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

In his first game with each team, he hit a walk-off home run.

“It was kind of a weird coincidence,” Stevenson said. “I can’t describe it. I was in shock.”

But it shows the sort of potential that Stevenson has.

He handles the bat well and can run into a home run every now and again.

And his versatility keeps him in the Trenton lineup.

“He’s my go-to guy when I need a first baseman, shortstop, second baseman,” Franklin said. “He’s very knowledgeable about how to play, how to exploit the other team’s weaknesses, what to do. His knowledge of how to play is very invaluable. I never have to worry about him too often or have to talk to him. ... It’s like being another manager out there.”

Franklin said he used to call Stevenson “Craig” all the time until he caught himself.

Franklin, who played prep and college baseball in the Los Angeles area, knew Stevenson’s father Craig — who played at Chatsworth High, L.A. Valley College and USC.

Craig also played professionally in the Houston Astros organization, but never made the Major Leagues.

It’s probably a long shot at this point for Stevenson, but there are places for guys like him in the Majors as well.

“Play consistently like he has always done,” Franklin said on how Stevenson can continue to rise. “Make the plays, hit, Dependability is the key word and Casey is very dependable.”

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