Q&A with Rangers 26th Rd Pick Kevin Castner

Former Cal Poly reliever Kevin Castner nearly signed with the Rangers after being selected in the 10th round of the 2008 MLB Draft. The club re-drafted him in last month's draft, and he signed just a few days later. Lone Star Dugout interviewed the hard-throwing righty.

The Texas Rangers selected right-handed pitcher Kevin Castner with their 26th round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.

If Castner's name sounds familiar, it's because the Rangers actually drafted him in 2008. The Rangers took the hard-throwing reliever in the 10th round last summer. He posted a 5.46 ERA and walked 25 batters in 29.2 innings with Cal Poly in '08, but he also surrendered just 24 hits and walked 40.

The Rangers were close to signing the 6-foot-4, 220-pound hurler last year, but the club found a bone chip in his elbow during a physical. Castner fell in the draft after putting up a 7.08 ERA in 20.1 innings this season. He pitched 20.1 innings, surrendering 23 hits, walking 22 and striking out 22.

Looking to begin his pro career as soon as possible, Castner has already signed a contract and he is currently pitching out of the bullpen with the Spokane Indians.

Jason Cole: I also interviewed you last year on the day of the draft, so I'm not going to ask you a bunch of the same questions. I wanted to talk about what happened last year. You were close to signing at one point, weren't you?

Kevin Castner: Yes. I was actually in Texas, and I took a physical with the team. They discovered a bone chip in my elbow that I later had an operation to take out. The deal was just changed dramatically, which really kind of disappointed me because I was really ready to get going with the Rangers last year.

Cole: I have to assume that since you were ready to get going with the Rangers last year, you're happy they took you again this year?

Castner: Oh, definitely. I was extremely proud to be selected by Texas last year. My best friend from my college baseball team is already in the organization. He says nothing but good stuff about the team and where he's at. I was more than ready and anxious to become a Texas Ranger last season. I'm glad I get another shot at it.

Cole: Coming off that injury, did you miss the start of the college season?

Castner: No, I was back. I took it slow in the fall and really worked on my strength and made sure my arm was 100 percent healthy before I returned back to action. I just kind of took it slow and took it upon myself to make sure I was physically ready.

Cole: How healthy did your arm feel during this season and right now?

Castner: Right now, it feels better than it ever has. I feel like having some time and getting back on a regular throwing program has really increased the strength and gotten it back to where it was.

I'd have to say during the fall and during the first part of the season, I was still getting back into it. Still kind of throwing a lot of pitches and experiencing tenderness. But I've reached a point where I'm back to 100 percent healthy.

Cole: You had the same area scout this year as you did last year, when he drafted you. How much did you guys keep in contact throughout the season? Did he let you know that they still liked you even though they couldn't sign you last year?

Castner: Yeah. He expressed that to me in the fall. To be honest, I didn't really speak with them at all during the regular season. I was surprised, and I'm actually pretty overwhelmed, that the Rangers selected me. We never really spoke when I was playing games and stuff. That was interesting.

Cole: Just to refresh some memories, can you give me a rundown of the pitches you throw and the speeds you usually work at?

Castner: I've got a fastball, a slider, and a changeup. My fastball will be anywhere from 90-97 [mph]. My slider is usually around 81 to 86. Then I throw a change around 80-84.

Cole: None of that has really changed from last season, has it?

Castner: No.

Cole: Being a guy that comes out of the bullpen, have you throw the changeup a lot in games?

Castner: No. I probably threw, in all my outings, probably five changeups all season long. But I definitely want to throw it more, even coming out of the bullpen. Guys are expecting just kind of a fastball-slider combo, and I'm going to definitely need the change at the next level to increase my success.

Cole: Are you expecting to remain in the bullpen as a professional pitcher?

Castner: I'm not expecting it. I think it's the best place for me. I know my friend, Evan Reed, who is with the Bakersfield Blaze right now. He was a college closer here at Cal Poly, and when he got into the system, he went to a starting role. I think it helped him in developing all his pitches. And now he's actually back in the back end of their bullpen, where he's used to. I think I'm probably expecting them to do the same kind of plan with me.

Cole: Speaking of Evan Reed being in Bakersfield, have you gone out to see him and the Bakersfield team play over the last two years?

Castner: Yeah, I did. I went and checked out a game last summer. I saw the Bakersfield Blaze against the Modesto Nuts. The coach of the Nuts was my old pitching coach, Jerry Weinstein. So it was good to see both even and Jerry out there on the baseball field.

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