The minor league life can be a grind. Game after game, riding buses for hours on end, sleeping in hotels, getting up and doing it all over again.
Lately, Daniel Castano has been earning his paycheck by grinding out wins.
Castano is 3-1 in the month of July for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Jumbo Shrimp, the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. The former Baylor hurler has made five starts this month, compiling a 4.03 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 29 innings.
As Jumbo Shrimp go, Castano is a sizeable catch. The 6-foot-4 left-hander doesn’t blow away hitters with velocity, as his fastball typically tops out in the high 80s on the radar gun. But he has good tailing movement away from left-handed hitters, and when he spots it well, he’s able to generate weak contact. Castano also owns quality secondary pitches with his curve and change-up.
He started out in the St. Louis organization, as the Cardinals used a 19th-round pick on him in 2016, after his junior year at Baylor. In his second pro season in 2017, he recorded a 9-3 record with a 2.57 ERA in 14 starts, and was named a midseason all-star for his Class A team, the State College Spikes.
But in December 2017, he was traded to the Marlins as part of five-player deal that sent all-star outfielder Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis.
That move has seemed to work out just fine for Castano. In 2018, he made 24 starts across three different levels of pro ball for the Marlins, tallying a 9-12 record with a 3.93 ERA. MILB.com thought enough of Castano’s potential that it named him one of Miami’s organizational all-stars.
This season, Castano, 24, started out in Jupiter, Fla., playing for Miami’s advanced A affiliate, the Jupiter Hammerheads. He pitched well enough in 12 outings there to earn his first promotion to Double-A in late May.
He opened in the bullpen, but made the change to the starting rotation in July, where he continues to produce. Castano didn’t figure in the decision in his most recent start, a 3-1 loss to the Biloxi Shuckers on Friday night. But he certainly pitched well enough to win, tossing six shutout innings and giving up only two hits. He struck out five and walked none, and retired the final 16 batters he faced.
Ex-Highlander takes over closer role
Nate Bertness is acing his classes at “finishing school.”
Bertness appears to be transitioning into a new role as a closer for the Inland Empire (Calif.) 66ers, a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The former McLennan Community College hurler picked up saves in consecutive games on Wednesday and Thursday. He needed only one pitch to close out a 3-1 win over Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday.
Bertness’ ability to produce swings and misses could make him an ideal choice to close. The 6-foot-6 left-hander is averaging 10.8 Ks per nine innings this year.
Hey buddy, sorry buddy
Shea Langeliers delivered a little Bear-on-Bear crime on Friday night.
The former BU catcher turned in arguably the best night of his young professional career. Playing for the Class A Rome Braves, the first-round pick went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. One of those RBIs came in the bottom of the 10th inning on a walk-off sacrifice fly that gave the Braves a 5-4 win over the West Virginia Power.
Only thing was – Langeliers produced the clutch play against an old teammate, Kyle Hill. The rookie reliever Hill gave up a hit and two runs to take the loss for the Power, the Seattle Mariners’ Class A affiliate.
Just rolling around, making catches
Just call this guy Chris “Outfield Grass” Roller.
Roller has been doing just fine at the plate for the Class A Great Lakes (Mich.) Loons, with a .293 average, six runs and six RBIs in his past 10 games. The former MCC outfielder owns a nifty combination of power and speed, which made him a 30th-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
But it’s the defense where he has really dazzled of late. In a recent game against the Clinton Lumberkings, the centerfielder Roller dashed across the grass and sprawled out for a hit-robbing grab in the right-center gap. Then later in the same game he made another diving catch on a ball dying in front of him in shallow center.
“Another diving catch made — this guy is a magnet out there,” the play-by-play announcer said on the Loons’ telecast.
“How about this guy Chris Roller, man?” the color commentator added. “He’s OK. He’s not bad. He’s like a walking highlight reel. He loves to make diving catches, always puts his body on the line.”
CENTRAL TEXAS PRO BASEBALL STATISTICS
|Braxton Ashcraft||Robinson||West Virginia (Pitt.)||A||0-6||6.48||33.1||26||12|
|Nate Bertness||MCC||Inland Empire (LAA)||A+||4-3||5.73||44||53||19|
|Jason Blanchard||MCC||Tri-City (SD)||A||1-2||8.10||13.1||17||7|
|Daniel Castano||Baylor||Jacksonville (Mia.)||AA||3-3||3.84||79.2||72||16|
|Kyle Hill||Baylor||West Virginia (Sea.)||A||1-2||5.63||16||18||4|
|Matt Kent||Midway||Portland (Bos.)||AA||5-7||4.41||112.1||62||42|
|*Brad Kuntz||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||0-2||20.25||4||2||5|
|Ryan Merritt||MCC||Durham (TB)||AAA||3-4||6.82||67.1||58||19|
|Logan Ondrusek||MCC||Fresno (Wash.)||AAA||4-4||7.74||57||49||21|
|Alex Phillips||Baylor||Pensacola (Minn.)||AA||3-3||1.81||49.2||54||18|
|West Tunnell||Baylor||Jackson (Ariz.)||AA||0-0||1.44||31.1||47||18|
|#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||3.61||72.1||74||28|
|Josh Bissonette||Baylor||Bristol (Pitt.)||RK+||.267||9||0||10||4|
|#Josh Breaux||MCC||Charleston (NYY)||A||.295||12||7||30||0|
|Kameron Esthay||Baylor||River City||Ind.||.268||39||5||36||3|
|*Brandon Grudzielanek||MCC||New Hampshire (Tor.)||AA||.156||5||0||1||0|
|Shea Langeliers||Baylor||Rome (Atl.)||A||.214||12||2||19||0|
|#Zac Law||Robinson||Charlotte (TB)||A+||.149||5||0||3||1|
|Nic Motley||MCC||Boise (Col.)||A||.208||5||1||4||0|
|Max Muncy||Baylor||L.A. Dodgers||MLB||.264||67||26||69||3|
|Nate Orf||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||.277||62||8||36||10|
|Kramer Robertson||Midway||Memphis (StL.)||AAA||.250||57||11||47||7|
|Chris Roller||MCC||Great Lakes (LAD)||A||.279||39||5||26||8|
|Brendan Venter||MCC||Rome (Atl)||A||.183||17||4||20||0|