(February 16, 2018) — The York Revolution have made three more player signings to the 2018 preseason roster, welcoming back Major League veteran infielder Alexi Casilla and catcher Luis Cruz and adding former New York Yankees outfielder Melky Mesa. The signings were announced by manager Mark Mason on “Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy” Thursday night on SportsRadio 1350 WOYK.
Casilla returns to York after a spectacular showing in 2017. Having joined the club in late May, Casilla helped spearhead the Revs’ midseason turnaround, which ultimately culminated in a second half division title en route to the Atlantic League championship. The switch-hitter batted .358 with four home runs, 18 doubles, 34 RBI, six stolen bases, and a .410 on-base percentage in 62 games. His highlights included a 23-game hitting streak from June 11 to July 26, during which he batted .423; it was the league’s second-longest streak of the season and tied for the third longest in Revs history. Casilla tallied 27 multi-hit games, including a two-home run game as part of a doubleheader performance in which he belted a total of three home runs, August 30 at Long Island.
The 33-year-old enters his 15th professional season and brings nine years of big league experience to York. Originally signed by the Angels in 2003, Casilla was traded to the Twins in 2005 in a deal that sent pitcher J.C. Romero to Anaheim. Casilla quickly rose through the Twins system, making his Major League debut in 2006. He would go on to play more than 500 games for the Twins over the following six seasons, hitting an even .250 in his career with Minnesota. His best season came in 2008, when he hit .281 with seven home runs and 50 RBI and led the American League with 13 sacrifices bunts. In the 2009 AL Central tiebreaker game, Casilla hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers, clinching the final playoff spot. Casilla also played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 and 2014.
“We’re thrilled to have him back,” said Mason. “He’s just a quality player. He’s the first guy at the ballpark every day. He had a good idea of what he wanted to do and led by example. He was fun to watch both at the plate and in the field. I was elated when he called and said he wanted to come back.”
Cruz was another midseason acquisition who was key in helping lead the Revs to their third Atlantic League title. A strong defensive backstop, Cruz was also an offensive force for the Revs last season, batting .276 with five home runs and 29 RBI in 67 games. That included a two-homer performance vs. Lancaster on June 24 and a torrid six-game stretch in mid-August during which he totaled 13 hits. Cruz made 47 starts behind the plate, was also used as a designated hitter, and even made a pair of starts at third base.
Cruz enters his eighth professional season, originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. A native of Cotui, Dominican Republic, Cruz spent his entire previous career in the Cardinals organization, reaching Triple-A Memphis in 2016.
“We’re really happy to have him back,” stated Mason. “He’s a really good defensive catcher with a good feel for the game. He proved himself as a hitter, too.”
Mesa joins the Revs for his 13th professional season. The 31-year-old appeared in three Major League games for the Yankees in 2012 and five more in 2013, combining to go 6-for-15 with a pair of doubles. Over his minor league career, Mesa has totaled 119 home runs, 440 RBI, and 125 stolen bases. The Dominican Republic native originally signed with New York in 2003 and ascended through the Yankees farm system. Mesa was a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2009 after belting 20 home runs for Charleston and was the Florida State League Player of the Year in 2010, when he clubbed 19 long balls while hitting .260 with Tampa. He combined to bat .264 with a career-high 23 home runs between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2012 and was an Eastern League All-Star, earning his first big league call-up. Mesa played in the Mexican League last season, after reaching at least the Triple-A level in each of the previous five years, including time in the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.
“We had a lot of good reports, and he was highly recommended by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez,” commented Mason. “All of the reports are that he’s a big league outfielder. He has a big league arm, he can run, has a lot of power, and is passionate about playing every day.”
The Revs now have six players under contract for the upcoming season, with more signings to be announced live during the next airing of “Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy” on Tuesday, February 20, at 6 p.m. on SportsRadio 1350 WOYK and www.woyk1350.com.