BEYOND THE BOXSCORE: GETTING TO KNOW DETROIT TIGERS OF CASPER WELLS
Despite having a pretty unique first name to start with, Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Casper Wells is a man of many nicknames, among them, Wellsy, Casps and “Casper-Pantsy.”
That last one belongs exclusively to Atlanta Braves pitching prospect Tommy Hanson, however.
“I call him ‘Hantsy-Pantsy,'” explained Wells, who was teammates with the Arizona Fall League MVP on the Mesa Solar Sox,” so he calls me ‘Casper-Pantsy.'”
Wells’ baseball pedigree is an unusual one, having been raised in the upstate New York city of Schenectady and played his college ball at Towson State, right outside of Baltimore, Md. Neither is known as a baseball hotbed, but Wells’ quickly-rising status – he was just added to the Tigers’ 40-man roster last month – could change that perception.
In the meantime, he’s certainly making an impression on his teammates (among them, Braves outfielder Matt Young, who appears in the background of this picture of Wells, flashing the peace sign).
Wells took the time to chat with GotMiLB about life in the Minors.
GotMiLB: Everyone has a “hidden talent.” What’s yours?
Wells: I’m good at impersonations. Whatever comes to mind, celebrities, people on the team.
GotMiLB: Complete this sentence: It would surprise people to know that I …
Wells: I think you should ask someone else about that. J.D. (Phillies infielder Jason Donald), how would you answer that?
Donald: Casper Wells is the funniest man alive.
GotMiLB: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
Wells: I used to enjoy snowboarding but since I got drafted I haven’t really had a chance to do that. I don’t think my contract says “don’t snowboard” but I wouldn’t want to do activities that could lead to my getting hurt.
GotMiLB: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, in your life are you the proudest?
Wells: Probably just what I’ve accomplished this year throughout the season, coming basically from nowhere and having a good year. Proving not only to everyone else but to myself what I’m capable of doing.
GotMiLB: What do you think you’d be doing now if you weren’t playing baseball?
Wells: I think about that all the time. I used to think about it a lot more when things weren’t going well. I was a television/film major in college and would probably try to get involved in some aspect of that world and put my creative juices to work. See where that went.
GotMiLB: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Wells: For a rush, I went bridge-jumping with my buddies up in Lake Luzerne in New York. I think I was a junior or senior in high school. I jumped off a 75-foot high bridge with cars going under it.
GotMiLB: Which aspect of life in the minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
Wells: When I was playing in the Gulf Coast League, being down there with no fans and it was almost like scrimmage games every day with no fans. And when I got drafted I thought it would be okay to go play in Florida. I’d never been there and I thought it would be great to play there.
GotMiLB: What is the biggest misperception that people outside of baseball have about life in the minors?
Wells: That everyone that plays professional baseball is in the big leagues. A lot of people don’t know there are different levels of the Minor Leagues. And everyone thinks you make a million dollars and are on TV so when they don’t see you they ask ‘I thought you were with the Detroit Tigers and I watch them and don’t see you.’
GotMiLB: Who is the most unusual character you’ve met in your pro baseball career?
Wells: My hitting coach Benny DiStefano. He’s pretty unusual. He’ll just throw out some sound-effects on you when you’re hitting. Very animated and you’ll always have stories about him if he’s your coach.
GotMiLB: What is the one question you hope you never hear again?
Wells: When I was in Michigan they’d always ask me about being born there (ironically, Wells was born in Grand Rapids but moved to New York a year later) and growing up there even though I didn’t. No one asks questions about my name which is sort of surprising, I thought more reporters would ask about that. But lately it’s been more about where I came from after having had not much success to where I am now.
GotMiLB: Where have you played in the Minors?
Wells: Oneonta, NY; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lakeland, Fla.; Erie, Pa.
GotMiLB: On your current or most recent club (Erie), what was your favorite thing about playing there? And is there anything you would change?
Wells: I like the stadium. It’s small and feels like the fans are right on you so it has a great atmosphere, especially when it’s family night. And on discount nights when beer’s involved a lot of the local college kids who come out and end up heckling the home team because they don’t know the difference, they just heckle whoever is closer to them. I wouldn’t change anything because it’s a hitters’ park so I like it.
GotMiLB: In your career, what has been your favorite road trip and why?
Wells: It was pretty cool when we played in Brooklyn and Staten Island last year because you had the Manhattan skyline there with the Statue of Liberty, that was the coolest.
GotMiLB: What is the best minor league promotion or visiting act you’ve seen?
Wells: I like the monkey guy with the floating thing (sorry, even GotMiLB could not figure this one out but is sure some readers will know what he’s talking about) and the crazy chicken guy (that would be the Famous Chicken).
GotMiLB: What has been your least favorite visiting act or promotion?
Wells: They’ve all been pretty good. But there was a clown there that kind of freaked me out. I wasn’t scared of clowns until I saw his performance.