Rockies' Ryan Castellani Looking For AFL Success
After undergoing surgery in June to remove loose bodies in his elbow, righthander Ryan Castellani returned to the Arizona Fall League for the second consecutive year.
Before arriving in Arizona, Castellani hadn't pitched in a game since June 13, when he made his 10th and final start for Triple-A Albuquerque. Before his surgery, Castellani went 2-5, 8.31 in 43.1 innings. But despite the inflated regular season statistics, Rockies pitching coordinator Darryl Scott was there when an elated Castellani threw two scoreless innings in his initial Arizona Fall League start.
"After his first outing he came off and he goes, 'Wow, it doesn't hurt," Scott said. "Which tells me it was probably bothering him for a while. He's in a really good place mentally. He looked good mechanically. He's in his natural arm slot."
Given the Rockies’ starting pitching woes this season at the major league level, Castellani undoubtedly would have been in line to make his major league debut had he been healthy and pitching reasonably effectively. Now, Rockies farm director Zach Wilson said Castellani, whom the Rockies drafted in the second round out of high school in 2014, is scheduled to pitch every fifth day until the Arizona Fall League season ends in order to build up to five- or six-inning outings.
This year, Scott said Castellani has been throwing a fastball with heavy sink that sits in the 93 mph range, a changeup and a slider that has become more of a slurve as a result of not throwing a curveball. Being able to focus on just three pitches, Scott said, has greatly enhanced the development of Castellani’s changeup.
Scott also said Castellani also is using his legs more efficiently, giving him better use of his lower half and keeping him from drifting forward. The result is better direction down the mound.
The Rockies expect Jon Gray, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland to be in their 2020 Opening Day rotation. Others vying for a spot include Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jeff Hoffman, Antonio Senzatela and Peter Lambert, who made his major league debut in early June. That’s a path Castellani could follow.
— After making his major league debut on Aug. 27, Sam Hilliard, who played all three outfield positions for the Rockies, hit .273/.356/.649 in 27 games with seven homers and 13 RBIs. He rebounded from a 1-for-25 tailspin to go 15-for-38 in his final 11 games with five homers and eight RBIs. While playing with Triple-A Albuquerque this season, Hilliard hit .262/.335/.558 with 35 home runs, 101 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
— Rookie-level Grand Junction shortstop Christian Koss suffered a broken left wrist when he hit with a pitch in the waning days of the season. In 53 games, Koss, drafted in the 12th round this year out of UC Irvine, hit .332/.447/.605 with 11 homers, 51 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. No surgery was required, and Koss' left hand was instead placed in a hard cast. He is expected to be ready for the Rockies’ development program in November.