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Vandy Alum Minor League Report: Casali and VerHagen Get Called Up to the Majors

Two former Vanderbilt baseball stars earned their first trips to the major leagues this past week. Meanwhile, players like Mike Yastrzemski and Conrad Gregor continued to rake in the minors.

Very few people were as happy to be in Detroit on Saturday as Drew VerHagen was.
Very few people were as happy to be in Detroit on Saturday as Drew VerHagen was.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Last week was a big one for Tim Corbin's former #Vandyboys. Two players earned major league callups after the All-Star break, a pair of moves that gave Corbin 10 alumni in the big leagues for a brief stretch on Saturday. Catcher Curt Casali (Tampa Bay) and pitcher Drew VerHagen (Detroit) took advantage of roster openings to earn locker spots alongside former Cy Young Award winners. While VerHagen has already been shipped back to Toledo after one decent start, Casali will have more of a chance to break through while the Rays sort through some injury concerns behind the plate.

Those two weren't the only #VandyBoys to make some noise over the past two weeks. Here's how some of the guys who made their names at Hawkins Field performed in the minors (and beyond):

Curt Casali was the first Commodore to earn a call-up since Taylor Hill was added to the Nationals' bullpen for two appearances back on June 25. The catcher had been batting .231 with three homers and 15 RBI at AAA Durham but had shown off enough patience at (and behind) the plate to earn a promotion when Tampa Bay Rays backup Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list last week. Casali ripped a single in his first professional at-bat and later came home to score. Unfortunately, that's all he's been able to do at the plate so far - he's just 1-9 in his budding MLB career to date.

The Detroit Tigers needed a big pitcher to handle a spot start and kick off Saturday's double-header with the Indians, and that honor went to Drew VerHagen. VerHagen cruised through four innings (one hit, four strikeouts) before the Tribe got the best of him on their second trip through the batting order. Cleveland plated three runs to make the Vandy alum a loser in his MLB debut, but VerHagen showed signs of becoming a useful tool for a major league rotation. The 6'6" righty is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA over his last five AAA starts.

Conrad Gregor, Vanderbilt's walk-drawing first baseman, is nearing a promotion in the Astros' system and may soon join Tony Kemp in Corpus Christi (UPDATE: Gregor got the call to move to Corpus on Monday night. Was it because of this article? Unequivocally, yes). He improved his average to .368 with a 15-39 performance (four home runs, two triples, five walks) over the past two weeks. That included a 4-5 performance in which he hit two home runs and stopped a double short of hitting for the cycle in a 9-14 loss against Visalia.

Tommy John surgery robbed Grayson Garvin of most of his 2012-2013 seasons, but he's slowly rounding back into form. He put together his longest outing of the season on Saturday, throwing five effective innings (five hits, one earned run, three strikeouts) in a start for the AA Montgomery Biscuits. He's still not the pitcher he was when he claimed the SEC Pitcher of the Year award in 2011, but he's getting closer with every start.

Mike Yastrzemski's big week earned him a promotion to Baltimore's AA team. Yaz hasn't showed signs of slowing down just yet, batting .353 in four games with his new club. He's already got three extra-base hits with the Bowie Baysox after putting together a .312/.364/462 slash line in advanced A ball. The 23-year-old is having the kind of season that should place him on top prospect lists next spring.

After a rocky start as a starter, Sam Selman is settling into a relief role for AA Northwest Arkansas. Crazy Legs hasn't allowed a run in his last five appearances, and while he's still walking more batters than the Royals administration would like (11 in his last 29 innings) he appears to be close to a breakthrough. The hard-throwing lefty has all the tools to be a major league contributor, but he'll have to rein in his control issues before he makes a trip to Kansas City.