Francisco Cervelli was born in Venezuela, to an Italian father and a Venezuelan mother. He was the starting catcher for Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. With just three major league games under his belt at that point, significantly less than veterans Nick Punto and Frank Catalanotto, he was clearly one of the emotional leaders of the team.
Recalled by the Yankees in early May of 2009 due to an injury to Jorge Posada, he was pressed into full-time duty a few days later when backup catcher Jose Molina went down as well. He went 12-for-42 (.286) for the month, and posted a respectable .298 average in 94 at bats for the season. This year, the Yanks opted not to bring Molina back, and entrusted the backup catcher role to Cervelli. He played tremendously when Posada was injured earlier this year, but has since come back down to earth. Prior to games of September 2, he was hitting .251 with 32 RBI in 235 at bats, including a .371 mark (13-for-35) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Cervelli's lack of power—1 HR in 334 career AB—and solid, but not outstanding, defensive skills—15.8% caught stealing rate in 2010—probably mean his career outlook is as a backup catcher, but his exceptional leadership ability at the ripe young age of 24 ensures that he'll be welcome in almost any clubhouse.
Negro Leagues DB Update: 1944 NNL & NAL
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