Daniel Castano just keeps getting better and better.
The former Baylor pitcher turned in arguably the game of his professional career on Thursday. Pitching for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Jumbo Shrimp, Castano notched a career-high 13 strikeouts in a complete-game effort as the Shrimp defeated the Mississippi Braves, 5-1, in Jacksonville.
It was Jacksonville’s first nine-inning complete game in more than five years, and the first time Castano had gone a full nine as a pro. The Shrimp are the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
The 6-foot-4 left-hander has been floating along nicely for the Shrimp the second half of the season. One reason why is because he’s been able to limit free bases. Castano didn’t walk a batter in the win over the Braves, extending a recent trend. He has surrendered only one walk in his past five starts, a span of 34.2 innings.
In an interview with Shrimp play-by-play announcer Roger Hoover on Friday, Castano said his special start against Mississippi was partially inspired by seeing his grandparents in the stands. They were in town visiting from his hometown of Austin.
Castano also reflected on his Christian faith, saying it has sustained him through the ups and downs of his minor-league journey, which is now in its fourth season.
“My faith has been so great, and it’s just something that has been able to keep me level-headed through it all. It’s just something that I’ve grown up with, and now have been able to embrace on my own,” Castano said.
The Jumbo Shrimp are locked in a tight battle with the Biloxi (Miss.) Shuckers for the Southern League South division title. As such, each of the team’s recent games seems to have carried even more weight than usual to the players. Castano said that gives even more motivation to the players.
“That makes it more fun,” he said. “This is what we do it for, this is what it’s all about. We just want to play to have fun, and we’re here to win, you know? That’s what (Marlins CEO) Derek Jeter has talked about since Day One, and we’ve embraced it. It’s so cool to be part of something like this.”
Getting back in the groove
Clearly, Zacrey Law was itching to get back out there.
Law missed almost a month of the season after a stint on the injured list. When he returned to action on July 27, he made up for lost time in a hurry. The catcher went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs in his first game back, a rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Rays. Then on Aug. 4, he rejoined his old club, the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Law, 23, was a 23rd-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2014 draft out of Robinson High School, where he was the Trib’s Super Centex Player of the Year that season. On the year, he is hitting .185 with six RBIs across two levels of pro ball.
Ex-Rocket lands in winner’s circle
Speaking of Robinson products, Braxton Ashcraft experienced a milestone moment last Monday.
Ashcraft recorded his first pitching win as a professional player. He logged five innings and gave up two runs in a 5-2 win for his West Virginia Black Bears, the Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It’s been a struggle at times for 19-year-old Ashcraft in this, his second pro season. He had a stint on the injured list and owns a 1-7 record with a 5.68 ERA. But you never forget your first W, and the second-round pick in 2018 still has a blindingly bright future ahead.
Martin enlivened by move to Braves
It’s not home, but Chris Martin isn’t complaining about his new home.
The Texas Rangers shipped the Arlington native to Atlanta in a trade deadline deal that fetched pitcher Kolby Allard for the Rangers. Martin enjoyed pitching for the Rangers, the team for which he grew up rooting. But the 6-foot-8 reliever isn’t about to complain about a move to the NL East-leading Braves.
Especially given all the stops the former MCC hurler has made along the way. That includes stints working for Lowe’s and UPS during a stretch when he was out of the game, rehabbing a labrum injury.
“What I’ve gone through is just a humbling experience,” Martin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m grateful to be playing every single day, and especially to be with a contender.”
CENTRAL TEXAS PRO BASEBALL STATISTICS
|Braxton Ashcraft||Robinson||West Virginia (Pitt.)||A||1-7||5.68||44.1||34||18|
|Nate Bertness||MCC||Inland Empire (LAA)||A+||4-3||4.85||52||58||21|
|Jason Blanchard||MCC||Tri-City (SD)||A||1-2||5.14||21||26||11|
|Daniel Castano||Baylor||Jacksonville (Mia.)||AA||5-3||3.29||95.2||90||16|
|Kyle Hill||Baylor||West Virginia (Sea.)||A||1-2||6.75||17.1||20||7|
|Matt Kent||Midway||Portland (Bos.)||AA||6-8||4.66||123.2||70||45|
|*Brad Kuntz||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||0-2||20.25||4||2||5|
|Ryan Merritt||MCC||Durham (TB)||AAA||4-4||7.06||72.2||61||20|
|Logan Ondrusek||MCC||Fresno (Wash.)||AAA||4-5||7.54||68||60||26|
|Alex Phillips||Baylor||Pensacola (Minn.)||AA||3-3||1.83||54||59||18|
|West Tunnell||Baylor||Jackson (Ariz.)||AA||1-0||1.27||35.1||51||19|
|#Logan Verrett||Baylor||Midland (Tex.)||AA||1-0||3.93||34.1||33||4|
|Tyler Watson||MCC||Kannapolis (CHW)||A||0-1||9.88||13.2||13||7|
|Aaron Wilkerson||Midway||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||7-1||3.54||76.1||78||28|
|Josh Bissonette||Baylor||Bristol (Pitt.)||RK+||.273||15||0||13||4|
|#Josh Breaux||MCC||Charleston (NYY)||A||.295||12||7||30||0|
|Kameron Esthay||Baylor||River City||Ind.||.271||45||6||41||4|
|*Brandon Grudzielanek||MCC||New Hampshire (Tor.)||AA||.156||5||0||1||0|
|Shea Langeliers||Baylor||Rome (Atl.)||A||.214||13||2||28||0|
|Zac Law||Robinson||Charlotte (TB)||A+||.185||9||0||6||1|
|Nic Motley||MCC||Boise (Col.)||A||.208||6||1||4||0|
|Max Muncy||Baylor||L.A. Dodgers||MLB||.262||76||27||75||3|
|Nate Orf||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||.269||66||8||42||11|
|Kramer Robertson||Midway||Memphis (StL.)||AAA||.246||58||11||48||8|
|Chris Roller||MCC||Great Lakes (LAD)||A||.281||50||7||38||8|
|Brendan Venter||MCC||Rome (Atl)||A||.175||17||4||20||0|