RIP to Ryan Costello, an infielder in the Minnesota Twins organization. It was announced that Costello died in Auckland, New Zealand, overnight. The 23-year-old had arrived in the country last week in preparation to play with the Auckland Tuatara of the Australian Baseball League over the winter. Initial reports indicate that Costello died of natural causes in his hotel room, but no other details were immediately available.
(1-6-20 update: An obituary is now available: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/hartfordcourant/obituary.aspx?n=ryan-c-costello&pid=194910217)
“The Tuatara would like to express their deepest condolences to Ryan’s family back home in the United States and to the whole Minnesota Twins organization,” the Tuatara announced in a statement. “Support is being offered to the Tuatara players, who are naturally devastated at the moment.”
Ryan Costello was born in Wethersfield, Conn., on June 13, 1996. He was a standout student athlete at Wethersfield High School and Central Connecticut State University. In three seasons with the Blue Devils, he hit .290 with 14 home runs. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 31st Round of the 2017 June Amateur Draft and hit .331 for the Mariners’ Rookie League team in Arizona.
Costello showed his potential as a slugger in his first full season in the minor leagues. Playing for the Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League in 2018, Costello smacked 16 homers and racked up 70 RBIs. He was selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game and participate in the Home Run Derby. He warmed up for the event by slamming two homers in an 8-5 win over Beloit on June 18, including a 9th inning grand slam.
Costello was part of a trading deadline deal on July 30. He and pitcher Chase De Jong were sent to Minnesota in exchange for southpaw pitcher Zach Duke. Costello reported to the Twins’ Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle, where he batted .229 with 4 homers to close out the season. He ended the season on a high note, as he belted a three-run homer in Game Four of the FSL Championship Series against Daytona. That homer was the deciding factor in the 8-5 win, as the Miracle won the League championship.
“I’ve only been here for a month, but from what I understood, the first half was a struggle,” Costello told MiLB writer Rob Terranova. “So having the chance to come out here and make a difference has been great.”
Costello split the 2019 season with the Miracle and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a AA team in the Southern League. He played first base and third base, as well as a couple games in right field. He even pitched in a game for the Miracle, retiring one of the three batters he faced. He hit .213 with the Miracle, but he improved to .240 with 7 homers and 21 RBIs when he moved up to the Blue Wahoos.
In an interview with Twins Daily, Costello talked about his developmental years in Connecticut and his power displays in the minors to date. He said that his greatest skill was in his head.
“I would say my ability to stay positive through tough times and understand that it’s part of the game and ups and downs are going to come. But if I can stay more level-headed and put myself in a position mentally to be successful, then things will kind of work themselves out a little bit,” he said.