Castellani Continues Polishing Pitches

DENVERIncreased velocity and a vastly improved slider have helped 20-year-old righthander Ryan Castellani more than hold his own at high Class A Modesto against older competition.

The 2014 second-round pick from Brophy Prep in Phoenix, Castellani went 1-4, 3.02 through nine starts for a last-place Modesto team. He had struck out 57 in 57 innings.

Castellani still lives in Phoenix, not far from the Rockies’ complex where he worked out diligently in the offseason. The payoff came in spring training, where he sat 92-95 mph with his fastball, which was up from the 90-93 range the past couple years.

He has a low three-quarters arm slot that meshes well with his delivery and results in an extraordinary sinker.

“He’s able to keep the ball down with consistency and sink, all at the same time,” player development director Zach Wilson said. “That just delivers a ton of groundballs and a lack of guys putting the ball in the air, which obviously relates to the lack of home runs being hit off him.”

Castellani had yielded eight homers in 200 pro innings, including only one this season.

Wilson said Castellani’s 83-86 mph slider became a more effective pitch during spring training. That caused his strikeout rate to jump from 7.1 per nine innings entering this season to 9.1 this year.

“He’s able to go in and out of the zone with (his slider),” Wilson said. “And it really has some late movement to it. It’s tremendously improved from this time last year to now.”

Wilson said Castellani is working on “more advanced” areas typically addressed at Double-A, such as understanding how to read hitters, keeping his delivery truly consistent and the nuances of keeping runners close.

Castellani’s changeup continues to improve, and Wilson said he has had starts where all three pitches have been consistently plus.

“A lot of guys have plus stuff, but it doesn’t play because the consistency isn’t quite there yet,” Wilson said. “His consistency with keeping those pitches plus—that’s been steady. You don’t see that very often from a 20-year-old kid in High-A.”


• Righthander Antonio Senzatela returned to the Double-A Hartford rotation on May 23 after missing nearly six weeks with a strained right shoulder.

• The Rockies promoted lefthander Harrison Musgrave to Triple-A Albuquerque after he went 5-1, 1.79 in six starts at Hartford.

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