Cassel Signs With Patriots

April 11, 2012
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No, not that Cassel. This is not an NFL news site. (Not yet, anyway.) The Cassel in question is actually Justin, the seventh round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2006 draft. Justin, of course, is the younger brother of NFL quarterback Matt* and former MLB pitcher Jack**. The Atlantic League’s Somerset Patriots (“the Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots” as they like to be called) announced on Tuesday that they have signed Justin to pitch for them this season. *…who famously backed up both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC before spending three years in New England as Tom Brady’s backup before finally getting a chance to play when Brady tore up his knee against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of the 2008 season, then parlaying his quality performance that season into a big contract and starting job – ironically, with the Chiefs. **…who slightly less famously was called up by the Astros (though not for the first time; he had eleven major league games on his resume up to that point) on September 7, 2008, the same day Matt stepped in to replace Brady. He then sat for a week before emerging from the bullpen to throw three innings of one-hit ball on the same day Matt led the Patriots to a 19-10 road win against the Jets. Justin Cassel was drafted in the 30th round by the Oakland Athletics in 2003, but didn’t sign. He was selected again three years later, in the seventh round by the White Sox (nineteen spots behind Brett Pill and nine behind Mike Leake, who did not sign), after attending UC-Irvine. The 21-year-old righthander appeared in 13 games for Chicago’s Rookie team in Great Falls before making four starts at High-A to end the season. He spent most of 2007 at High-A Winston-Salem but made only ten starts. Google hinted at a shoulder injury in late May of that year. In 2008, he must’ve been healthy because he made 28 starts for Double-A Birmingham, finishing 10-4 with a 3.11 ERA and 104/57 SO/BB ratio and going nearly four months without losing a game. The next three years saw him reach as high as Triple-A, though injuries limited him to just 16 total games between 2010 and 2011. Following the 2011 season he was named to Team USA for the Baseball World Cup and Pan American Games, and later played winter ball in Venezuela. I can’t figure out when exactly he was released – he’s not listed on Baseball America’s Minor League free agents list from November, so I don’t think it was a situation where he just ran out of contract renewals – but there he was on Tuesday, one of four guys picked up by Somerset. (One of the others was Matt Crim, who is not – much to my disappointment – the son of Chuck Crim.) ***And here’s the kicker (otherwise known as the fun fact that I couldn’t fit in anywhere else): on September 22, 2008, the day after Matt’s Patriots got blown out by Miami, the team’s first regular season loss since December 10, 2006, Jack and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter. Some families don’t have entire LIVES as good as that fifteen-day stretch the Cassels enjoyed in September 2008. Photo: ESPN.com

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