If you're a Red Sox fan seeking reasons for hope, one of them is hard to miss at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds.
Slugger Triston Casas might not be the team's consensus No. 1 prospect — MLB.com prefers infielder Jeter Downs, for instance — but he's easily the most intriguing.
The 20-year-old with natural power from the left side is already a behemoth. Listed at 6-4, 238, he told a couple of reporters last winter that he had actually continued growing since being drafted 26th overall in 2018 while reaching 6-5, 255.
That means he's already roughly the size of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen or Indians slugger Franmil Reyes, an imposing specimen who catches the eye before he even steps into the box. What's really exciting, however, is what he does once he levels a bat.
One year after slamming 20 home runs at Single-A as a 19-year-old, Casas is opening eyes at the alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he has smashed three home runs against pitchers on the cusp of reaching the big leagues.
His most impressive blast came over the weekend, when right-handed prospect Tanner Houck drilled him with a pitch. Casas declined to take first base and promptly launched a Houck offering out to right center for his third home run since being added to the 60-man player pool three weeks ago.
"I haven't got the call to the big leagues, but I feel like it's the closest thing to it," Casas said via Zoom. "I was really excited to get up here. I knew the level of talent was not anything like I've faced before. I was really excited to test what I had against the best guys in our organization, besides the guys in the big leagues. I've definitely come up here and tried to take full advantage of the opportunity, take every at-bat with purpose and go out there and compete."
The results have been impressive. One of Casas's homers at Pawtucket came off of reliever Marcus Walden, who went 9-2 with a 3.81 ERA in Boston last year.
"The level of pitching I've faced here is definitely the best that I've ever faced before," Casas said. "Last year, the arms in the Low-A Sally League were definitely not anything like the guys here. Just today I was facing (Domingo) Tapia, who was throwing 100 and stuff. I don't see that every day down in Low A. I'm really happy to have gotten a call up here. I knew I was going to be challenged. I'm happy with the at-bats I'm putting together and the way that everything's turned out."
Casas grew up idolizing Reds first baseman Joey Votto, a former MVP who has led the National League in on-base percentage seven times. He credits his choked-up two-strike approach to Votto. Evaluators also see shades of Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, another big left-handed hitter.
"Growing up, I loved watching Joey Votto," Casas said. "I love his approach. I love his swing. I love the way he approaches the game, and the way he takes his at-bats are second to none. The stats speak for themselves. He's one of the best hitters of the 2010s, and that's when I was growing up watching baseball, and being a left-handed first baseman, Joey Votto's not a bad guy to emulate. I don't really try to copy everything he does, but the other day I hit a home run in the sim game, and looking back on it, I was like, wow, I actually do look like Joey Votto."
So the real question is when we might see Casas in Fenway Park?
Considering he has only played two games at High-A, he could stand to start next season at Double-A, especially with prospect Bobby Dalbec ahead of him at first base and likely to get a shot to win that job in Boston next spring.
After that, though? Who's to say Casas doesn't move quickly? He's certainly proving hard to miss.
"I feel like getting this opportunity to come up here and play against the older guys in our level, and with the way that I've handled myself, and the way that I've put together at-bats, I definitely feel like I've put together a good reputation around the camp," Casas said. "In terms of getting to the big leagues quicker, I'm not too sure. I don't try to focus on that. Obviously, at the positions that I play, we have a lot of good talent, and I'm really happy that I've got all those guys in my organization to help push me and hopefully I push them as well."