Former Wethersfield High School standout baseball star Ryan Costello was found dead in his hotel room in New Zealand on Monday, 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, team officials said.
"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 practice Monday morning, days ahead of the Tuatara's opening game of the 2019-20 ABL season.
Costello was traded to the Minnesota Twins organization last year as part of a deal that sent Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners.
“On behalf of the entire organization, the Twins send their most sincere condolences to Ryan’s family, friends, coaches and teammates,” the Twins said in a statement.
Bill Masse, the former head of scouting for the Mariners, described Costello as a goofy, innocent guy who just loved life.
"He was the kind of kid everyone wanted to be around because he was so positive," Masse said.
"I mean he had a great first summer. He made the all-star team, I believe he hit like .336 basically was the MVP of the entire league," he added.
After high school, Costello played college baseball at Central Connecticut State University.
"With news this morning it’s made us all take a step back and remember all those smiles he had and how much fun he had playing the game," said CCSU Head Baseball Coach Charlie Hickey.
"The CCSU community is saddened to hear of the passing of former student-athlete Ryan Costello. He had tremendous success as a Blue Devil, and we remember his infectious personality, drive to succeed and positive outlook. Our thoughts arewith his family, friends, and teammates," the CCSU Athletic Department tweeted.
In an interview with Twins Daily in October 2018, Costello 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," Costello told Twins Daily. "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 of those days. I live about five minutes from a river, the Connecticut River, so we go fishing on the river a lot."
Costello's high school baseball coach at Wethersfield High School, Mark Bagdasarian, released a statement on Monday:
"Today is a sad day for the Wethersfield community with the passing of Ryan Costello or affectionately known as “Coz”. Words can not describe the sadness the community is feeling. We lost an amazing person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ryan’s family and friends during this very difficult time. Ryan’s impact goes farther than the baseball field. He was a son, a grandson, a brother, a friend, a teammate and a person who people looked up to on and off the field. Ryan had a tremendous influence on Wethersfield baseball and the Wethersfield community. He will never be forgotten."