Former Bradley Central and Cleveland State standout Ryan Casteel helped the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists capture their first South Atlantic League title since 1984 Friday night.
After posting the best record (88-52) in all of Minor League Baseball during the regular season, the Colorado Rockies class A team advanced to the SAL playoffs, where they knocked off the Rome (Ga.) Braves two games to one in the opening round before downing the Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers three games to one in the championship round.
Casteel caught six of the seven postseason games and did well at the plate, hitting .318 with a .400 on base percentage. He had seven hits, including a double and a home run, plus he scored five times and drove in four runs.
During the regular season, Casteel played in 71 games, rapping out 70 hits, including 24 doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs. He drove in 28 runs and stole a half dozen bases while overcoming a midseason slump to finish with a .279 batting average and a .332 OBP.
Former Ooltewah outfielder Tyler Massey is also a member of the Tourists, playing in 104 games this season, with 115 hits, 21 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 71 RBI, 72 runs scored, 22 stolen bases with a .292 batting average and a .350 OBP.
The Rockies recently signed a four-year extension of their player development contract with the Asheville club.
The Tourists dropped the first game of both their postseason series before rallying for consecutive victories. After dropping the first game to Rome by a 5-3 score, Asheville outscored the Braves 10-5 in the next two games to advance to the championship.
Once again Asheville stumbled out of the gate, falling 6-3 in the opener before putting together three straight wins by a combined 29-7 tally for the title.
Two other Bradley County’s other two pro players also recently wrapped up their summer seasons.
Former Walker Valley and University of Memphis fireballer Ryan Fraser split his summer between class A Port St. Lucie, Fla. and AA Binghamton, N.Y.
The New York Met farmhand had a combined 5-4 record with six saves and a 2.81 earned run average in 45 relief appearances. The big right-hander struck out 43 batters and walked just 20 in 64 innings of work.
Former Bradley Central flame thrower Cole Brand started his season in Gulf Coast League in Florida before the St. Louis Cardinals moved up to Class A short season ball in Johnson City.
In the Sunshine State, Brand went 2-0 with three saves and a trio of holds, posting an 0.51 ERA in 15 games. He struck out 10 and walked just two, while giving up just one run in 17.2 innings on the bump. Opposing batters hit just .182 against him.
In northeast Tennessee, Brand threw in a half dozen games, giving up 18 hits and nine earned runs in 12.2 innings. He struck out a dozen and walked six while posting a 6.39 ERA.
All three local players were taken in the 2010 Major League draft and have just completed their third seasons of pro ball.