Not only were brothers Caden and Casey Dana both drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, they were each taken by the Los Angeles Angels, with Caden signing for a record-breaking signing bonus.
Having grown up in Montgomery, Caden is a right-handed pitcher and graduating senior from Don Bosco Prep. He was committed to play at the University of Kentucky. Casey, an outfielder, was on the other end of his college career, having just finished a graduate year at the University of Connecticut.
The draft didn’t go exactly as expected for the youngest Dana, as Caden entered as the 119th ranked prospect by MLB.com.
“Going into the draft, I knew there were going to be some ups and downs. I tried to prepare myself for getting anxious or frustrated at times,” Caden said. “Day one, I was honestly excited to see all the names I knew get called.”
“Day two came around with decent offers, but I wasn’t trying to lower my number. I knew I was worth more than what the offers were. I knew I had something good going with Kentucky.”
The prospect of attending college became more of a reality after the second day of the draft came to a close, without his name being called.
The first day of the draft, on Sunday, July 17, held the first two rounds. The third through tenth rounds were on the second day, Monday, July 18. The final ten rounds were on the third day, Tuesday, July 19.
The Angels came calling after the second day had completed. The Halos ended up selecting Caden in the eleventh round on July 19, with the 328th overall pick.
The 18-year-old then agreed to a signing bonus of $1,497,500, breaking a record for the highest bonus given to a player drafted after the tenth round. MLB.com had his draft slot valued at $125,000, a difference of $1,372,500.
“We had a handle on where we thought he could go. When he didn’t go there, my heart kind of sank. I knew how much he wanted to play pro ball,” said Don Bosco baseball coach Mike Rooney, who was intently following the draft during a family vacation. “It was such a whirlwind, after day two going to bed thinking you’re heading to college because of where the money round is with the draft. Not only do you sign, but you set a record for a signing bonus.”
The Angels began their offer at the draft slot of $125,000. Dana’s representative, George Iskenderian and his colleagues, were able to negotiate the bonus to nearly $1.5 million.
“It was very nerve racking. There was a lot of anxiety from not seeing Caden’s name get picked during the first two days,” Casey described. “Day three the Angels called Caden and made him a pretty good deal. I was actually mowing the lawn when he took it. I hopped off the lawn mower, went inside and we started chest bumping each other in the kitchen, going crazy.”
A few hours later, it would be Casey’s turn.
“I went back outside. I didn’t really feel like watching the draft tracker,” he said. “I was sitting by the pool waiting for a phone call and my sister ran out with a Twitter notification saying that the Angels picked me in the sixteenth round. I said, ‘get out of here, I didn’t even get a phone call.’ I was blown away by it. To go to the same team as my little brother. It was one of the craziest days of my life.”
“I was really excited and really just got blessed with the Angels,” Caden said. “I was even more fortunate that they picked Casey too. It was definitely a day I’ll never forget.”
Casey was selected in the 16th round of the draft, going 478th overall. The outfielder signed a bonus for his designated slot value of $125,000.
“I think it’s beyond a dream,” Rooney added. “I don’t think anyone has the audacity to dream of two brothers in the same draft, with the same organization. You probably hope they both get drafted, but to go to the same organization is really unique.”
Casey played four years at Seton Hall before transferring to the University of Connecticut for his extra year of eligibility, due to the 2020 season being cut short. This season, in 65 games, he posted a .313 batting average with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs.
“The past two years I’ve been trying to go in the draft,” he said. “It’s been my goal for a while now. In 2020 I got off to a good start to the season, but COVID canceled everything.”
The 2020 draft was reduced to five rounds, hurting Dana, who is the middle brother between Cullen, the eldest, and Caden.
Cullen was drafted in the 30th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, before getting released earlier this year, due to injuries.
“Last year I thought I had a chance, but I never got that phone call,” Casey said of the 2021 draft. “So I went to UConn and had an even better year this year. Seeing all that hard work pay off, it’s a great feeling.”
For Caden, 2020 proved to be an invaluable year.
“The COVID year that he lost, he worked incredibly hard and had a complete physical change,” Rooney said of Caden. “He became an absolute man in a very short period of time. The size and strength gains he made were absolutely incredible, and in his last two years at Bosco we got to see him compete at the absolute highest levels in the country.”
Rooney, who coached all three of the Dana brothers at Don Bosco, had a big impact on the Angels selecting the pair.
“Coach Rooney was the one that was connected with the Angels and really insisted that they take both me and Casey,” Caden said.
“After day two ended the Angels reached out to me. There are some people in that organization who I’ve known for several years. They wanted to draft Caden,” Rooney explained, noting some relationships he’s formed with MLB scouts.
“They also had a lot of interest in Casey. There was a fear, though, that they wouldn’t be able to sign Caden.”
The Don Bosco coach continued.
“I just let them know that I thought Caden was very serious about signing. I gave them a number that I thought would work. They asked me about the importance of them also drafting Casey. I said, ‘who wouldn’t want the opportunity to play professional baseball with your brother?’ I encouraged the Angels to call their advisor, as well as to call Caden and Mr. Dana himself.”
Currently Caden and Casey are at rookie-ball camp in Tempe, Arizona. Casey, who said that Mike Trout is his favorite Angels player, has been playing in Arizona Complex League games and expects to be transferred to the High-A Tri-City Dust Devils in Pasco, Washington within a week or so.
Caden, who enjoys watching Shohei Ohtani the most, has been throwing bullpens and is building up to be a starting pitcher. While he may appear in ACL games as well, his first official minor league assignment is still undetermined.
“They’re incredibly easy kids to root for and I love them like extended family members,” Rooney added. “I’m really looking forward to seeing them get the opportunity to play in the major leagues. I’ll certainly have a ticket to that game.”