Business and baseball: Raleigh has big plans and big-league aspirations

Cal Raleigh didn’t intend on knocking out the remaining classes for his bachelor’s degree in 2020. But with coronavirus impacting the minor league baseball season, Raleigh opted to take a big swing and finish up.

When Raleigh was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the third round in June 2018, he left with what he considered two “heavy semesters” left. Raleigh returned to campus to take 15 hours in the fall of 2019 with plans to do classes online this year.

“I took two classes in the spring during spring training that were offered online that I had to take, so I figured I would get those out of the way,” Raleigh told the Osceola. “And then COVID hit and I ended up saying, ‘Might as well take some this summer and knock it out.’ All I had left was one in the fall.”

There will be a virtual ceremony Friday night to honor Raleigh, who has earned a degree in entrepreneurship, and a group of 40 Florida State athletes who are graduating. Raleigh said years ago he began to look at majors when he and roommate Chase Haney learned about the chance to study entrepreneurship through the Jim Moran Institute

“It was something that intrigued me,” Raleigh said. “It’s something I’m definitely going to be interested in whether baseball works out or doesn’t. I learned a lot.”

Raleigh said he is interested in investing in houses or apartments, following the lead of his dad, Todd, who coached the baseball teams at Western Carolina and Tennessee but is now focused on entrepreneurship. Todd Raleigh now owns a printing business and has been helping Cal with his future plans. It was also important for Cal to know how to invest and not turn it over to a stranger.

“Obviously you hear about all those guys and how they lose their money,” Raleigh said. “Not very wise with it. Anytime you can learn how to invest or diversify. Especially with the money that you get I think it’s good for you to know what you’re doing with it. It’s hard to put a lot of trust into some random people or you don’t know what they’re doing with their money. It’s really important to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with your money. That’s something that I definitely learned while I was at Florida State. And I’m very thankful to have a dad that does that as well.”

Raleigh is managing his money well and he could be on the path to earning more in years to come with the Mariners. In his first full pro season, in 2019, Raleigh hit 29 HR and 82 RBI and 64 runs between Single-A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas. He was primed to take another step forward in 2020 but the pandemic halted the minor league season.

But in a sign that the Mariners value Raleigh and are committed to his development, he was given multiple opportunities to work out and play in the instructional league in Arizona.

“I got a lot of ABs in this year,” Raleigh said. “That was something I was really happy about. I got to go to both spring training 2.0 and got to go to the summer alternate site camp. It was all instructional. I was lucky enough to get invited. I tried to make the best of my opportunity. Obviously it’s not ideal with the COVID situation. Played the hand you’re dealt. I feel like I made the most out of it.”

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, just 30 months since Raleigh last wore an FSU uniform. A durable catcher, he was the backstop for 194 games at FSU between 2016-18 and his junior season was his best as Raleigh hit .326 with a .447 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 18 doubles and 54 RBI. In typical FSU fashion, he also had more walks (51) to strikeouts (43).

Raleigh is likely in line for a trip to the Mariners’ spring training camp in February 2021 but may need more time to reach the majors. How much time? Maybe not all that much considering his performance at the plate the last two years. Raleigh always had a professional mindset, following his dad’s teachings, and FSU helped prepare him for the next step, too.

“Coming from an elite college program, you get treated like a big leaguer,” Raleigh said. “I had a lot of fun there for three years. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Anytime you transition to something new that’s unknown, it’s a little different. I’ve had a lot of fun playing pro ball so far. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I know that this is what I want to be doing. So far I’ve had a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying it. Hopefully here in the next year or so I can make the next step in the big leagues.”

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