In a rather unexpected turn of events, the Palm Beach Cardinals, the High-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, announced Wednesday that catcher Casey Rasmus has retired. While the 24-year-old, taken as a 36th-rounder in 2011, was best known as the younger brother of former Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus, he had stepped up his performance over the past year and ascended to the point where he was one of five catchers who took part in major-league spring training as non-roster invitees.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder had a few intriguing offensive tools, as he was a switch-hitter and had much better speed than is standard for a catcher. Prior to 2013, Rasmus hadn’t really shown much and had been limited to the role of an “organizational” catcher, meaning that he moved around to different teams in the organization and filled roster vacancies as needed. But last year, things seemed to really come together for him. Over 52 games split between Low-A Peoria, High-A Palm Beach, and Double-A Springfield, he hit .298 while stealing a career-high 14 bases. This offensive performance was a large improvement over his previous career-best .230 average and five steals.
This year, Rasmus established himself enough to become the primary catcher at Palm Beach. His offensive numbers kind of regressed to the mean, as he was hitting .235 through 136 at-bats with five steals, which is not awful for a catcher but is disappointing when you factor in that Rasmus has virtually no power and doesn’t take walks. At least statistically speaking, he’d been decent defensively, throwing out 46 percent of runners and putting together a .990 fielding percentage.
It’d be wrong to speculate about what drove Rasmus into retirement, but Scout.com’s Cardinal Nation reported that he had taken two separate leaves of absence this season. At some point, every baseball player has to make a decision to step away from the game and focus on the rest of their life, but it’s a little bit disappointing to see a player like Rasmus quit so early, especially in an organization that is so devoid of young catching talent.