Triston Casas

Triston Casas one potential gem in a rebuilding Red Sox farm system

Triston Casas one potential gem in a rebuilding Red Sox farm system

BOSTON -- The next generation of Red Sox prospects isn't nearly as deep or talented as the one that preceded it, with perhaps one exception -- Triston Casas.

The imposing slugger was just named Red Sox minor league player of the year by Baseball America after slamming 20 homers with 81 RBIs in 120 games, all but two of them at Low-A Greenville.

A first-round pick in 2018, Casas was limited to just two games last year by a thumb injury. The 6-foot-4, 238-pounder was drafted out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. on his power potential, and on that front he certainly delivered in 2019.

Casas's 19 homers not only tied for third in the South Atlantic League (he added his 20th with High-A Salem), but the 19-year-old was the only teenager to crack the top 10. Such outstanding production at such a young age, against older, college-tested competition, bodes well for his future.

"I think it went really well," Casas said at Fenway Park on Thursday, where he was honored as the organization's minor league offensive player of the year. "I feel like I learned a lot in this first season and I'm looking forward to the next one."

Casas showed legitimate growth from the beginning of his full-season debut to the end. He opened the season by hitting just .180 (9 for 50) in his first 15 games before heating up in May. He finished at .256 with a .350 on base percentage and an .830 OPS. He credited the turnaround to tweaks.

"Not an overhaul or anything," he said. "As the information gets a little bit better and the hitting coaches are able to relay a little more to me, we tweaked a few things, but nothing too drastic. It was a lot of things. It was set up, positioning in the box, a little bit of swing path and changing my leg kick a little bit to try time up the pitching a little bit better.

"I feel like the adjustment I made from high school to where I am right now is pretty drastic, but so is the pitching. I feel like throughout the year I made a lot of adjustments. It's led me to where I am today. I'm pretty happy where I'm at, but I'd like to get into the offseason and try to perfect it."

And what might that mean? While Casas possesses advanced strike zone recognition, he also struck out 118 times and will need to increase his contact rate.

"Strikeouts are a part of the game," he said. "I had more strikeouts than hits this year, which is something I need to improve on, but it's something I'm not really concerned with. It's part of the game. I'll keep swinging and doing my game."

When the season started, Casas was only a year removed from his high school schedule, which -- even in baseball-intense Florida -- comes nowhere close to the demands of pro ball. But all things considered, he held up well.

"Man, definitely the quick turnarounds," he said. "Coming from high school, you play two or three times a week, maybe. It's pretty different from getting an off-day every two weeks. That's the biggest thing, understanding you get a lot of at-bats, quick turnarounds, an opportunity to fail. It's just a matter of coming out and putting yesterday behind you and putting your best foot forward the next day."

Drafted as a third baseman, Casas is built more like a first baseman already, and evaluators expect that's where he'll settle. The Red Sox seem to agree, which is why he played 94 games at first base and only eight at third.

The fact that he's already built like Red Sox All-Star J.D. Martinez makes it easy to envision him one day calling Fenway Park home. Thursday's visit reminded him of what the future might hold.

"This never gets old, coming to Fenway," he said. "After this year, it felt really good."

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MLB rankings provide grim assessment of Red Sox prospects, farm system

MLB rankings provide grim assessment of Red Sox prospects, farm system

Though they snapped an eight-game losing streak on Monday, the Red Sox remain 14.5 games out of first place in the division despite having the highest payroll in the MLB. If the 2019 season has got you feeling down, at least you can look to the future. Right? 

Well...the future in Boston doesn't look much more promising. 

The Red Sox are one of three MLB teams with just one Top-100 prospect, according to MLB.com's recent rankings. 19-year-old corner infielder Triston Casas represents Boston's lone blue chipper, and even he is ranked 90th out of 100. MLB.com ranked Boston's farm system 30th in the majors based off its prospect points formula. 

Boston's farm system is depleted after dealing prospects in the Chris Sale trade and other deals to make their 2018 World Series run. It also doesn't look as shiny with infielder Michael Chavis thriving in the big leagues.

Having statistically the weakest collection of prospects does not bode well for Boston's future, especially as divisional rivals like the Yankees and Rays have plethoras of solid, young talent. Tampa Bay has six top-100 prospects, including the first overall in shortstop Wander Franco. New York, on the other hand, has three top-100 talents as well as under-25 big league studs Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. 

Aside from Casas, Boston's promising prospects include first baseman Bobby Dalbec and lefthanded pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez. The top-10 Red Sox prospects, per MLB.com, are ranked below: 

  1. Triston Casas, 1B/3B
  2. Bobby Dalbec, 1B
  3. Bryan Mata, RHP
  4. Jarren Duran, OF
  5. Tanner Houck, RHP
  6. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP
  7. Jay Groome, LHP
  8. Gilberto Jimenez, OF
  9. Thad Ward, RHP
  10. C.J. Chatham, SS


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MLB Rumors: Teams liked other prospects more than those of the Red Sox

MLB Rumors: Teams liked other prospects more than those of the Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox surprised many when the team elected not to make a move ahead of Wednesday's MLB trade deadline. Though the team had been connected to many bullpen arms in rumors leading up to the deadline, they elected to stand pat.

And there may have been a reason for that.

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Red Sox faced an obstacle in any trade talks. Teams across the MLB simply liked other prospects more than the ones the Red Sox had.

The Red Sox farm system is rated as one of the worst in the majors, so this isn't necessarily a surprise. The Sox do have some solid prospects -- 2018 first-round draft pick Triston Casas stands out among the bunch -- but evidently, whatever the Sox were offering came up short of what other teams were offering for bullpen help. So, the team elected not to "do something stupid" and retained their prospects in hopes that they'll either turn into major league contributors or up their trade value.

Still, failing to address one of their weakest areas -- the Red Sox have the 12th-worst bullpen ERA in the majors (4.53) and the sixth-most blown saves (19) -- while standing two games back in a competitive wild-card race doesn't seem like a great alternative either.

If the Red Sox can win a wild-card spot with the current group, that will vindicate Dave Dombrowski to some extent, as it is unlikely that the team would be able to make a push to the top of the AL East. But if this team can't come together, it sure does look as if Dombrowski waved the white flag on the season.

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