The Texas Rangers took Cal Poly pitcher Kevin Castner with their 10th round pick on Friday morning. The right-hander is known for his arm, as his fastball routinely reaches into the mid-90s.
Despite his hard fastball and 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, Castner didn't do much pitching in high school. He began pitching once he arrived on the Cal Poly campus, but was forced to sit out his true freshman year. The hurler appeared in just seven games last season before being counted on as a key member of the Mustangs' pen in 2008.
Castner appeared in 20 games, totaling 29.2 innings this season. He surrendered 24 hits, walked 25 and struck out 40. The California native had a 1-2 record with one save and a 5.46 ERA.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Castner shortly after he was drafted on Friday.
Jason Cole: What does it feel like to be drafted by the Rangers today?
Kevin Castner: It has been a crazy day, a crazy experience. I've got one of my best friends on the Rangers and I am just excited for the opportunity to play at the next level.
Cole: Are you talking about Evan Reed?
Castner: Yeah, Evan Reed.
Cole: Have you talked to him at all since you were drafted?
Castner: No, not yet. I talked to him a bunch yesterday but I haven't gotten a hold of him today.
Cole: Were you picked about where you expected to go?
Castner: You know, I thought I was supposed to go in the three-to-four range. I was told that yesterday. But some stuff about signability kind of affected that selection. I'm just happy my name showed up today and I'm just ready to go.
Cole: Did you talk to the Rangers much before they drafted you?
Castner: Yeah, I talked to them a few times during the course of the year. Just in the fall, once in the middle, and once near the end about three weeks ago. They just expressed their interest – nothing really too serious. That was about the extent of it.
Cole: Have you had any contact with them since they took you today?
Castner: Yeah, I spoke with the area guy named Todd. He just said congratulations. He wanted to get me higher, but he was just happy he could make his input and get me picked.
Cole: Give me a little scouting report of you on the mound, like what pitches you throw and the speeds you normally work at.
Castner: I'm mostly a fastball, slider guy and I mix in a changeup. I'm more of a power reliever. I throw around 93 to 96. My slider is my out pitch. I'll throw that in the mid-80s. I'm working on my changeup and that comes in around 80 miles an hour. Mostly it's just a fastball, slider combination.
Cole: You mentioned that you have been a reliever. But because you have a great arm, I know some teams would probably like you to start. Have the Rangers mentioned anything about whether you would be a starter or a reliever with them?
Castner: We kind of talked about that. I remember the scout asked me what I preferred. I said that I didn't really have a preference. I just want to pitch more and develop more in whatever role fits for the organization.
Cole: To give fans a bit of an idea of what you're like on the mound, is there a big leaguer that you try and model your game after?
Castner: I like to watch the hard-throwing guys. I kind of compare myself to Kerry Wood, from the Cubs. I also try to emulate my game after Nolan Ryan. I watch his mechanics and I try to break his stuff down. I really respect the way he goes after the game.
Cole: When I was at spring training this year, I got to see Nolan Ryan giving advice to a lot of the organization's young pitchers. As a big fan of his, that really has to excite you.
Castner: Oh yeah. That is terrific. It's a great opportunity to be able to actually talk to one of the best pitchers to ever play the game. That has to get you going as a pitcher for the Rangers.
Cole: You missed your freshman year with an injury, is that correct?
Castner: An injury kind of set me back, but I was most likely going to redshirt anyway. We had about 25 pitchers on the staff at that time.
Cole: What was the injury?
Castner: I had a little shoulder inflammation because I never pitched in high school. I just started pitching once I got to college. The workload was a little too much for me at the time, so I had to take a step back a little bit.
Cole: Is that something you've been over for quite awhile now?
Castner: Yeah, it was just for a little bit and then I went on and played summer ball and everything.
Cole: Can you give me your thoughts on your season with Cal Poly?
Castner: It was kind of rough for the pitching staff as a whole. We were inconsistent. As for my season, it started off pretty hot but I was kind of inconsistent down the stretch. I didn't get too many opportunities at the end of the year, but that's the way it goes. We were trying to win ballgames and it just didn't really work out for us as a team.
Cole: As a redshirt sophomore, you not only have the chance to go back for one year, but you have two more years of eligibility. Can you talk about the chances of you signing with the Rangers versus going back to Cal Poly for your junior year?
Castner: The chances of me signing are very high. I want to get out and start pursuing my dream to become a Major League baseball player. But the leverage is still there. Cal Poly is a great place to play. It is a great town, great city. But I definitely lean more towards signing professionally.
Q&A with Rangers 10th Rd Pick Kevin Castner
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