The Rockies announced Thursday that they’ve claimed lefty Bernardo Flores Jr. off waivers from the Cardinals and designated righty Ryan Castellani for assignment in order to open a spot on the roster. Flores has been optioned to Triple-A.
St. Louis had designated the 25-year-old Flores for assignment earlier in the week after previously claiming him off waivers from the White Sox. He appeared in just one game with the Cards this season but was unable to retire any of the three Mets hitters he faced in that May 5 outing. Flores posted solid numbers up through the Double-A level during his time with the White Sox organization, but he’s surrendered a 5.74 ERA through 31 1/3 frames with lackluster strikeout and walk rates while pitching for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate (17.6 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively).
While Flores has struggled this season, left-handed depth is an area of need for the Rockies, who currently have two struggling southpaws in their big league bullpen: Ben Bowden and Lucas Gilbreath. The only other near-MLB left-handed bullpen option on the roster is Yoan Aybar, who hasn’t fared well in Double-A. Veteran Chris Rusin and former Yankees/White Sox prospect Ian Clarkin are both in Triple-A as non-roster players, but neither has pitched well there.
Castellani, 25, was a second-round pick by the Rockies back in 2014 and has landed among their top 15 prospects in each of the past seven years, per Baseball America’s rankings. He posted solid but unspectacular results for the first several seasons of his minor league career but began to see his numbers take a dip when he repeated the Double-A level in 2018.
Despite a particularly rough showing at the Triple-A level in 2019, Castellani made his MLB debut with the Rox in 2020. His first two appearances went quite well, as he held opponents to one run with a 10-to-3 K/BB ratio and a 50 percent grounder rate in 8 2/3 frames, but he was hit hard for most of the remainder of the summer. Castellani oscillated between the bullpen and the rotation, finishing out his rookie campaign with a 5.82 ERA, a 13.2 percent strikeout rate and a 13.8 percent walk rate in 43 2/3 frames. His 2021 season hasn’t gone much better in the big leagues (two runs in 3 1/3 innings) or in Triple-A (7.82 ERA in 35 1/3 innings).
Castellani does have a minor league option remaining beyond the current season, so perhaps another club in need of some pitching depth will have ideas about how to coax a better performance out of him. The Rox have a week to trade him or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.