WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Minnesota Twins prospect and Connecticut native Ryan Costello has been found dead in his Auckland hotel room days after joining the Auckland Tuatara in the Australian Baseball League.
The 23-year-old third baseman died in his sleep, apparently of natural causes, on Monday morning, team officials said.
Costello, who grew up in Wethersfield, was an All-Conference and All-State selection from Wethersfield High School.
“The Tuatara express their deepest condolences to Ryan’s family back home in the United States and to the whole Minnesota Twins organization,” the club said in the statement.
The statement said Costello’s teammates were “naturally devastated” by the news. Concerns were raised when Costello failed to report for training Monday morning, days ahead of the Tuatara’s opening game of the 2019-2020 ABL season.
Born in Hartford on June 13, 1996, Costello played in the Mariners’ minor leagues for the Clinton Lumberjacks and later for the Fort Myers Miracle teams during their 2018 championship run.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 18, 2019
The club signed Costello in September, after he had hit 15 home runs in the 2019 minor leagues for the Twins organization, Newshub New Zealand reported.
Manager Steve Mintz said at the time, that the team was excited to add Costello. He said, “Costello will be huge, because he can play all over the field – first base, third base, as well as left field and right field. He is a left bat and will ground out at-bats for us, while providing some pop.”
Costello also played for the Central Connecticut State University baseball team. In 2015, he played in 37 games, making 34 starts as a freshman for the Blue Devils. In 2017, he tied a CCSU single-season record with 22 doubles and hit a league-leading nine home runs.
In an interview with Twins Daily in October, 2018. he said, “I went and checked out Central. I liked it. I had known about Central my whole life. I’m only 15 minutes from the school. I had gone to their basketball games and I’d heard that the program was good. So when the time came, a couple of weeks later, I hadn’t heard from many other schools. It was … I wanted to go there. I didn’t want to make them wait. I made a decision early in the recruiting process and it ended up working out.”
As a youth, Costello and his family went to several New Britain Rock Cats. The team was a Double-A affiliate of the Twins for many years. “I remember thinking that was pretty cool and thinking there were some big time players who came through Connecticut.”
Following the collegiate baseball season, he played for the Bristol Blues.
Costello was traded to Minnesota last year as part of a deal that sent Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners.
Costello told Twins Daily that said his greatest strength is “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.”
He spoke of his desire to spend time with family after his first professional season in 2019.
“My dad has a bass boat and has had it since I was a kid. The first thing we do when I go home is go fishing. I’ve been home for seven days, I’ve been out fishing about four those days. I live about five minutes from a river, the Connecticut River, so we go fishing on the river a lot.”
On Auckland Tuatara team’s Facebook page, Mike Harrison posted, “On behalf of his family here at home thank you for everyone who got to meet him there he said it was beautiful and the people were so nice! We are deeply saddened and are in disbelief we loved him so much! He will be missed forever.”
Reporting by the Associated Press used in this story.