Local stars get ‘the call’ on Day 2 of MLB draft
by Joe Cannon
Jun 09, 2010 | 3054 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LEAP OF FAITH — Former Bradley Central and Cleveland State standout Ryan Casteel, center, is making the leap into the professional baseball ranks after being taken in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies Tuesday during Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Casteel was one of four players with local ties to be drafted so far with the final 20 rounds to be announced today. Banner photo, JOE CANNON/file
LEAP OF FAITH — Former Bradley Central and Cleveland State standout Ryan Casteel, center, is making the leap into the professional baseball ranks after being taken in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies Tuesday during Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Casteel was one of four players with local ties to be drafted so far with the final 20 rounds to be announced today. Banner photo, JOE CANNON/file
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“The call” they’d been waiting on came Tuesday for a pair of Bradley County players, plus two others that played some college ball in Cleveland.

On Day 2 of the 2010 Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft locals Ryan Casteel and Ryan Fraser, along with Lee University’s Jose Cuevas and Stephen Pryor, who played at Cleveland State before moving on to Tennessee Tech, all had their names called and are now working out the details to join the professional ranks.

Taken by the Colorado Rockies in the 17th round, Casteel will leave Cleveland State and head west.

The former Bradley Central standout will more than likely be heading to Advanced Rookie ball in Casper, Wyo. The Ghosts play in the Frontier League and with opening day just 11 days away Casteel will have to pack in a hurry to prepare for the 76-game season that runs from late-June until September.

Fraser, who played at the University of Memphis after graduating from Walker Valley, was taken by the New York Mets in the 16th round Tuesday.

The Seattle Mariners made the first Cleveland-related pick of the draft, taking Pryor in the fifth round, while the San Francisco Giants claimed Cuevas in the 29th.

The final 20 rounds of this year’s draft will be held today with Bradley Central fireballer Cole Brand and Lee flame-throwers Adam Everett, Scott Swinson and Nolan Rudman, along with outfielder J.J Costantino and third baseman Tanner Moore and Cleveland State first baseman Cody Hooper, all waiting by their phones.

After setting Bear records for home runs (32), runs batted in (151), batting average (.459), hits (155) and triples (9 - tied), plus single season marks for average (.538) and RBIs (57), Casteel had already signed to play for the University of Tennessee before his senior season but had expectation to go in the top 10 rounds of last June’s Amatuer Draft.

With so many around him pumping his expectations higher and higher, the top catching prospect in the state admits he “asked for too much money” as a signing bonus when questioned by prospective Major League teams.

“I kept hearing that I'd go in the first eight rounds or that I would go late. It was 50-50 on signing me in the top eight rounds. For whatever reason — and it was probably signability — they didn't draft me,” Casteel said after not getting selected last year.

With the prospect of waiting three years before being eligible for another draft and the fact the Vols have a sophomore starting catcher who was named All-SEC in 2009, Casteel felt his best chance to reach his goal was with the Cougars.

“I wouldn't get to catch (at UT),” he said. “If I'm going to get drafted, it will be as a catcher and not as an outfielder.”

With a renewed drive to prove himself, Casteel hit .353 with 14 home runs and 58 runs batted in for Cleveland State this spring and was named to the TJCCAA All-Conference Team.

“I’m really happy it worked out for Ryan,” Policastro stated. “He came over here and worked hard. He’s a good kid with a lot of ability.”

“It (going to the pros) will be an adjustment for him, just like coming here was an adjustment,” the Cougar coach expressed. “Although we’ve had several players drafted in the past, Ryan’s the first freshman to go in a long while.”

“This (Colorado) is where he wanted to go,” Casteel’s father, Randy, related. “We went to Denver for a tryout just before the draft last year and he really liked it. They were the team that really seemed interested in him the most but they didn’t come see him this year, so we thought they had changed their mind.”

“Several teams were calling him throughout the day (Tuesday) and Toronto’s scout expected the Blue Jays to take him around the 10th to 12th rounds but then Colorado called to let him know he was still on their radar. They ended up being the one to take him,” the elder Casteel remarked.

“It was an exciting day and things really got crazy the last 45 minutes before he got drafted but when it was all over her said, ‘I feel like this is the place I’m supposed to be,’” Randy Casteel concluded. “He’ll work out the details with them today but we expect he’ll be going to Casper.”

Taken 530th overall, Casteel was the second catcher tabbed by the Rockies who took William Swanner, out of LaCosta Canyon High School in California in the 15th round.

Colorado also selected former Ooltewah standout Blake McDade who hit .399, with 89 hits, 19 doubles and 47 RBIs during his senior season at Middle Tennessee State University this spring.

After playing for Coach Mike Turner at Walker Valley, Fraser was a 49th-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2006 Draft.

Choosing to play for Memphis instead, the 6-foot-4 right-hander just completed an award winning senior season on the mound, going 7-4, including a win over 14th-ranked Oklahoma, with a 5.77 ERA, two complete games victories and a save.

Fraser ranked in Conference USA's Top 10 with 93 strikeouts in 92 innings. A three-time C-USA Pitcher of the Week honoree in 2010 his K-total was the most by a Tiger hurler since 2004. He was named second team All-C-USA for his performance on the field and to the conference All-Academic Team for his work in the classroom.

Although Pryor was just 4-4 with four saves and a 5.71 earned run average in his first season at Tennessee Tech, he struck out 75 batters in just 41 innings for the Ohio Valley Conference champs.

“His velocity has really improved each year,” Policastro explained. “He was throwing 88-89 (mph) when the (Texas) Rangers drafted him out of high school, but after two years here and now a year at Tech, he is throwing 96-98.”

Cuevas helped lead Lee to its second NAIA national runner-up finish in the past three years. Coming to the Flames from the Bronx, N.Y., the slick fielding 6-foot-2 shortstop hit .360 with nine home runs and 66 RBI. He also blasted a walk-off home run in the Flames opening game of the this year’s NAIA World Series last month.