Twins prospect Ryan Costello was found dead in his New Zealand hotel room Monday, days after joining his team in the Australian Baseball League.
The 23-year-old third baseman died in his sleep, said his team, the Auckland Tuatara. No cause was given.
Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll, who oversees the team’s farm system, wrote on Twitter: “Ryan’s infectious energy and drive for greatness will never be forgotten. He is the definition of a great teammate and has been taken from us far too soon. Sending thoughts and prayers to the Costello family.”
The Twins said in a statement: “The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Ryan Costello yesterday in New Zealand. On behalf of the entire organization, the Twins send their most sincere condolences to Ryan’s family, friends, coaches and teammates.”
Concerns were raised when Costello failed to report for practice Monday, days ahead of Tuatara’s opener of the 2019-20 season. Costello was to play in the Australian league over the winter before resuming his career with the Twins.
Born in Hartford, Conn., Costello went to high school in the Hartford suburb of Wethersfield and then played college baseball at Central Connecticut State in New Britain.
“He was a lot of fun to coach,” Central Connecticut State coach Charlie Hickey told the Hartford Courant. “He definitely left a mark on the program and a lot of people he was around. It’s a difficult day, but you try to remember all the laughs and smiles he had.”
A 31st-round pick by Seattle in the 2017 draft, Costello played in 2018 for Class A Clinton in the Midwest League, a team managed by former Twin Denny Hocking.
On July 30, 2018, he was dealt to the Twins in a trade that sent veteran lefthander Zach Duke to the Mariners. That September, he hit a three-run homer to help Class A Fort Myers win the 2018 Florida State League title with an 8-5 victory over Daytona.
Costello, who also played first base and outfield, split 2019 between Class A Fort Myers and Class AA Pensacola, hitting .223 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI over 108 games.