You could see Curt Casali wasn't long for the Tigers' world. A team that had loaded its farm teams with catchers after some earlier Dust Bowl days made Casali the trade chip in last month's deal with the Rays for pitcher Kyle Lobstein.

Casali was traded eight months after the Tigers parted with another catcher, Rob Brantly, in last summer's Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade.

And the reason both catchers were dealt has to do with three prospects high on the Tigers' pecking order: Bryan Holaday at Triple A Toledo, as well as James McCann and Ramon Cabrera at Double A Erie, who until this weekend, were 1-2 in the Eastern League in hitting.

Cabrera is still on top, with a .377 batting average in 16 games, while McCann, who had an 0-for-4 day in the SeaWolves' 10-6 loss Sunday to Trenton, is fifth in the league, batting .350 in 15 games.

They alternate at catcher and designated hitter for manager Chris Cron's SeaWolves, who happily deploy two guys who can hit the ball. McCann, 22, has been on Detroit's blue-chip list since he was the Tigers' top draft pick (second round) in 2011 as a junior at Arkansas.

Cabrera, 23, was grabbed in last fall's trade that sent left-handed pitcher Andy Oliver to the Pirates.

"That was set up by design — we wanted both to play every day," said Al Avila, the Tigers' assistant general manager who oversees the minor leagues. "We figured we'd DH one every game and catch the other one.

"We know McCann can catch, we don't have to worry about that. We knew Cabrera was a hitter and needed some work behind the plate. But we wanted them both to hit every game."

Scouts agreed two summers ago that, defensively, McCann was big league ready. His bat was the question. A right-handed hitter, he batted .288 in 45 games last season at Single A Lakeland before moving to Erie, which needed help after Holaday was shipped to Toledo and to Detroit.