Life can take some sudden changes, as found out by former Barton Community College baseball player Federico Castagnini.
Selected recently by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft, Castagnini’s life has changed from a college student-athlete to a baseball player trying to make it in the professional ranks.
Selected as the 909th pick in the 30th round, Castagnini recently completed his junior year at Creighton University and is now preparing for rookie league in Sarasota, Fla.
Castagnini was playing summer ball in the Northwoods League for the Green Bay Bullfrogs when he heard the news.
“I was with my summer league team in Green Bay, taking batting practice, when I heard the news,” Castagnini said. “Being drafted came as a surprise and wasn’t something I was thinking about at the time. I think everyone knew before I did as I didn’t find out about it until my coach told me.
“Even after I saw it on the web, I still questioned whether there was another Federico Castagnini or someone was playing a joke on me. Once I was able to get to my phone and return a missed phone call from the Orioles did I finally realize it was true.”
Conferring with family, industry experts, and respected confidants, including Barton head baseball coach Mike Warren, Castagnini recently signed to play professionally and chose to leave Creighton.
“It’s always been a dream and goal to play professional baseball,” Castagnini said. “When the Orioles offered their scholarship package contract, then I knew going professional was my best option. I now had a solid ‘Plan B’ option for securing my academics to help me with life after baseball.”
As part of the professional contract, Castagnini will receive not only a monetary salary but a paid scholarship for when he returns to college for a degree. Considered getting “old” in the ranks of baseball development at age 22, Castagnini said he feels his experience at both Barton and Creighton has prepared him for his next step of pro baseball.
“Skip (Coach Warren) was a big factor of my opportunity to attend Creighton University,” Castagnini said. “I love that guy. He was a great coach and friend. He and Biggs (Barton Baseball Assistant Coach Brent Biggs) have helped me a lot.”
In Castagnini’s sophomore year at Barton, he received honorable mention All-American status in NJCAA Division I Baseball. The national award added to Castagnini’s post season accolades as he also received first team All-Region VI and conference honors as a KJCCC All-Jayhawk West selection. During his sophomore season, Castagnini led the 2012 Cougars with 6 homeruns, 16 doubles, and drove home 67 runs. The shortstop from Verona, Italy, batted .361 on the season getting 75 hits with a .563 slugging percentage.
“During my sophomore year at Barton, I received numerous questionnaires to fill out for major league baseball scouts,” Castagnini said in response to the draft process. “Again it was such a surprise because I get all these questionnaires to fill out my sophomore year, then I have a pretty good year at Creighton and I didn’t hear anything from the scouts.”
Moving from shortstop to third base at Creighton, Castagnini made an impact in his season with the Blue Jays. Finishing fourth on the team, batting .320 and ranking second in the NCAA Divison-I sacrifices, Castagnini was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week and earned All-MVC honorable mention honors.
“Playing at Creighton elevated my game, not just physically but in ability and psychologically,” Castagnini said. “Creighton is known for being sound defensively. We did countless ground ball drills and repetitions.
“I also learned a lot about hitting using a lot of film. It’s easy to feel what you do wrong but to actually see it helped a lot especially with my balance. We faced a lot of good pitching which I needed in order to get better at the plate.”
In reference to playing in front of big crowds and worldwide television, Castagnini joked, “I just didn’t want to end up on (ESPN’s) the Not Top-10 Plays.”
Playing a game known for failures as much as successes, having a strong mental approach to the game is just as necessary as improving one’s strength and ability.
“I try to start a good game,” Castagnini said in response to his baseball life approach. “I try to recall what I’ve learned and practice, relax, and just have fun. When a bad play happens or I have a bad at-bat, I try to forget about and put it behind me. You can’t make the game or situations too big.”
Not your typical power hitting third baseman, Castagnini will most likely be moved to second base, making it the third infield position he has played in the past three years.
The move will likely be advantageous to Castagnini as he is developed as not only a second baseball, but a diversified utility infielder.
Castagnini and his Orioles’ Gulf League rookie team begin play on Friday.
— Todd Moore,
Barton Community College