As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of high school spring sports, local seniors were faced with an abrupt ending to their high school careers. A group of these students were also athletes at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, presented by Toyota. This Rangers Academy Senior Spotlight series seeks to highlight those athletes who have worked on their craft at the Academy as they move into the next chapter of their lives.
Anthony Castaneda, Cedar Hill High School
Not every baseball skill has to be honed exclusively on the field.
Despite having his senior season at Cedar Hill High School cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rangers MLB Youth Academy participant Anthony Castaneda has found a way to keep working on his game as he prepares for college.
“My teammates didn't get our one last chance to play as a team again and not have the team that we felt so confident and proud of ourselves,” Castaneda said.
“I have been putting a lot of thought into my plans for the future and how to continue to have a good mindset in the midst of this epidemic. Staying in shape and getting to swing in the backyard is the routine now, but it's what I've done since Day 1.”
For Castaneda, baseball has always been about more than individual statistics or wins and losses. He credits the game for developing his passion for helping those around him by seeing through their unique lens.
“Baseball has taught me to have faith in the adversity and to take care of those around you,” Castaneda said. “Being able to help others with any problem is something that baseball has developed in me.”
Over the past year, Castaneda has spent time at the Academy developing those skills. But it hasn’t been all hard work.
Some of his best memories at the facility include “sharing conversations with all the coaches and laughing alongside them,” Castaneda said.
“But for sure one of my favorite memories is also seeing players from the [Rangers] Minor Leagues and then getting a chance to be there with them and also me and my friends talking alongside them,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda made an impression on Rangers Youth Academy director Juan Leonel Garciga from his first appearance at the facility.
“Anthony’s first day at the Academy, I watched him throw one ball across the diamond and I remember immediately thinking, ‘This kid has got the goods,’” Garciga said. “He became a regular attendee of our open workouts and quickly befriended the more tenured players. It’s been fun seeing the bond that some of our top athletes have developed in such a short amount of time, and I can’t wait to see them compete at the next level.”
While Castaneda’s senior season ended abruptly, his baseball journey is far from over.
Castaneda is set to suit up for Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, Texas, next season, where he’s likely to play alongside fellow Academy alums Adan Galvan and Mauro Rincon.
College baseball was an important priority for Castaneda.
“Not only just to play, but to have that opportunity to play with my friends and to compete against them,” Castaneda said. “Also just for the love of the game ... sharing a dugout with your teammates that all have the same dream and the hard work ethic to be greater.”
Castaneda intends to study kinesiology and eventually become a physical therapist.
“I plan on continuing my education ... to gain better knowledge every day so I can help others while also playing the game I’ve loved since I was a little kid,” Castaneda said.