JUPITER, Fla.—For righthander Chase Costello, pitching is all about learning and making adjustments.
Starting the first game for the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team in the World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) Perfect Game World Championship, Costello got off to a bit of a rough start. He allowed a double to the first batter he faced—Mountain West Slammers shortstop Garrett Martin—and then gave up a single up the middle to right fielder Harris Williams. After that, Costello walked two batters around a pair of groundouts before getting his final out of the first inning. Twenty-four pitches—and one unearned run—later, Costello was out of the first frame.
“(The) first inning's always the worst,” said the 6-foot-4 Louisiana State commit out of Pompano Beach (Fla.) High. “Getting a hang and a feel of things. Other than that, usually after the first inning I start getting a feel for it, start getting more comfortable.”
That’s exactly what happened, as Costello settled into a groove and put up back-to-back 1-2-3 innings and didn’t allow another hit for the remainder of his outing, which lasted four innings in total. He walked one more batter, but from the second inning on, Costello struck out three batters, induced four groundouts and broke a hitter’s bat with a fastball in on the hands.
Costello has been in the low 90s before this summer, but was mostly in the upper 80s with his fastball on Thursday, touching 91 mph in the first inning. He also found that he was getting fewer strike calls with his heater. So he switched up his game plan.
“Usually it's the fastball and the slider,” Costello said, after a 5-1 Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team victory. “And changeup is just a good backup pitch. But the (umpire) was squeezing me behind the plate a little bit today. It was mostly offspeed pitches that he was giving me strikes on instead of my fastball. So that's what we stuck with today, mostly offspeed.”
Costello’s primary offspeed offering was a sharp, tight slider, which was in the low 80s during his first few innings before dropping to 78-80 mph during his final two frames. The pitch loosened up as the velocity dropped, but that didn’t change its effectiveness, as Costello generated three swinging strikes via the slider in the fourth inning alone.
He was particularly effective throwing the pitch on the backdoor to lefthanded hitters, something that Costello says he’s always been comfortable with, and does regularly with his Pompano Beach High team during the spring.
Costello has been a regular name thrown around in the scouting community this summer as teams put in work for the 2018 MLB Draft, and while Thursday might have not been his sharpest outing from start-to-finish, it was a good example of how he’s managed to make adjustments, adapt in-game and show his growth as a pitcher.
“I feel like this summer I've learned a lot on the mound because I pitched a lot more,” Costello said. “I learned a lot more about pitching . . . Go from the start, (from the) first pitch go after them like, ‘Here it is.’
“Let them hit it if they can hit it. My defense has got me.”