Casteel off to strong start; Fraser waiting
by JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
Apr 13, 2014 | 358 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Casteel and Fraser
Casteel
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A little over a week into the Minor League Baseball season, one local pro is continuing his strong play, while the other is still trying to work his way back from an injury and awaiting his summer assignment.

After a California League Catcher of the Year performance last summer and being one of the top All-Star players in the Australian Baseball League this past winter, Ryan Casteel got an invite to the Colorado Rockies major league spring training and is now with the organization’s Class AA team in Tulsa, Okla.

Having hit safely in four of his first five games in the Drillers’ lineup, the former Bradley Central and Cleveland State standout is hitting .300 with a .365 on base percentage. Casteel has a half dozen hits and a pair of walks in his 22 plate appearances.

Having split time behind the plate at first base and designated hitter, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and has a pair of home runs and three runs batted in going into Saturday night’s game.

Tulsa is 3-5 on the season and tied for second place with the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals in the Texas League North Division. The Arkansas Travelers lead the division with a 6-2 mark.

After wrapping up a three-game series in Corpus Christi, Texas, Saturday evening, Casteel and the Drillers will open a three-game set in San Antonio this afternoon before returning home for four games against Northwest Arkansas starting Wednesday.

When the New York Mets broke their minor league spring training camp, former Walker Valley and University of Memphis hurler Ryan Fraser was instructed to stay in Port St. Lucie, Fla., for some extra work to get ready for the summer season.

After battling back from knee surgery, Fraser had returned to Class AA Binghamton, N.Y., last summer and went to Puerto Rico for winter ball.

“During winter ball, I felt good and was throwing like I used to, but then I tweaked my upper lat, so I came in here (to spring training) a little behind everyone else and only got into four games. Normally you do seven or eight,” he explained.

“I didn’t get released to pick up a ball until Feb. 1, so I had to try to catch up,” Fraser commented before beginning extended spring training. “My first two games down here was a little rough. The last two went very well.”

Fraser is working hard to get back to where he was before the injuries and expects to rejoin the Binghamton squad when the Mets feel he’s ready to go. “I’m throwing well, but there are no spots available right now, so I’m still down here (Fla.),” he texted Saturday.