Baseball America has released its list of top 100 prospects, and for the first time since Andrew Benintendi ranked No. 1 overall in 2017, a Red Sox player has cracked the top 50.
Slugging first baseman Triston Casas checked in at No. 47, a jump of 23 spots since he debuted at No. 70 on BA's list last year. He was joined by second baseman Jeter Downs (71st) and first baseman Bobby Dalbec (90th). Both Downs (86th) and Dalbec (75th) made last year's list as well.
Three players out of the top 100 might not sound like much, but the Red Sox are only two years removed from placing zero players on BA's 2019 preseason list, so it's a step in the right direction.
The jewel of the organization is clearly Casas, an imposing 6-foot-5, 255-pound slugger who has yet to play above High-A, but opened eyes at the alternate site camp in Pawtucket over the summer, often against pitchers with big league experience.
Casas just turned 21 on Friday and could move quickly once the minor league season starts. When last we saw him in organized competition, he was blasting 20 homers with an .830 OPS in Greenville at age 19. The left-handed hitter has modeled his game after perennial Reds All-Star Joey Votto, choking up with two strikes and focusing more on strike zone control and line drive contact than pure power.
He's the most intriguing prospect in the system by far and a future building block for an organization that is rebuilding its pipeline. Only four years ago, after all, the Red Sox placed three prospects in the top 50 -- Benintendi at No. 1, Rafael Devers at 18, and left-hander Jay Groome at 43.
The No. 2 overall prospect that year was infielder Yoan Moncada, who had just been traded to the White Sox as the centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade. It will be a long time before the Red Sox boast that kind of high-end depth again, but Casas represents a step in the right direction.