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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 13 Ryan Castellani pitching well with restricted workload

For the second consecutive year, Castellani is holding his own in a league filled with older hitters.

PuRP No. 13: Ryan Castellani (592 points, 37 ballots) | Winter 2014 Ranking: 19 | High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 13

Ryan Castellani is the first player on this edition of the Purple Row Prospects list to have appeared on the ballot of each of the 37 ballots cast, an honor he shares with each of the players who place above him this time around. The 19-year-old right-hander signed out of an Arizona high school for $1.1 million (slightly under slot) after the Rockies picked him in the second round of last year's draft.

Here's a selection of what prospect guru David Hood said about Castellani when the Rockies drafted him:

Castellani's strengths are closely tied in to the Rockies' pitching philosophy preached over Spring Training, that being the use of a heavy two-seam fastball down in the zone to limit hard contact. ... The knock you read on Castellani is in his secondary pitches, and in the videos available, it's hard to see much of either his curve or his change. ... Because he lacks the power of pitchers going around him, Castellani may require a bit more time in the lower levels before starting his climb, and he probably doesn't project more than a No. 3 or 4 at this point.

Castellani's delivery has been compared to Eddie Butler's; while Castellani's secondary stuff might not be there now, he seems like a scheme pick for Colorado's pitching philosophy. Interestingly, the Rockies showed a lot of faith in Castellani when they skipped him over the rookie league Grand Junction Rockies and into Short Season-A ball with the Tri-City Dust Devils.

In 37 innings in the Northwest League, Castellani held his own with a 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 4.23 FIP, and 6.1 K/9. In a great pitching environment like Tri-City, those aren't spectacular numbers (especially the K rate), but in the context it was more than acceptable for a high school draftee debuting in a league filled with hitters that are over three years older on average.

This year, Castellani made his full-season debut with Low-A Asheville with a pretty strict innings/pitch limit in each one of his starts. In 78 innings over 20 starts with the Tourists (so, fewer than four innings per start), against hitters three years older than him, Castellani has a 4.04 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP, 3.28 FIP, and 7.5 K/9.

In their midseason evaluation of Colorado's minor league system, rated Castellani as the 17th best prospect in the system:

The former Arizona high school standout has an excellent combination of size, stuff and feel for pitching. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and there's room for more as he adds strength to his 6-foot-4 frame. His breaking ball gets caught in between, more of a slurve right now, but he's worked at tightening it up. He has a good feel for his changeup as well. He can throw all three for strikes, and there's sink on his fastball, generating groundball outs. He throws a lot of strikes but still needs to refine his overall command, something there is confidence he'll develop over time.

As Castellani builds innings, he should be able to fine-tune his stuff and his command. If that happens, he should be able to reach his ceiling of a solid middle-of-the-rotation big league starter.

The combination of draft pedigree, advanced placement, and results to date led me to place Castellani 14th on my list. I'm excited to see what he can do at a higher level next year, perhaps with fewer restrictions on his workload.

Contract Status: 2014 second round, not Rule 5 eligible (2018), three options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2018