A pair of Red Sox minor-leaguers will represent the United States in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
First baseman Triston Casas and utility man Jack Lopez were both named to Team USA’s 24-man Olympic roster, USA Baseball announced on Friday.
Darren Fenster, a minor-league outfield and baserunning coach within the Red Sox organization, will serve as Team USA’s third base coach under manager Mike Scioscia.
Casas, 21, is regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Red Sox farm system and the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball.
In 36 games with Double-A Portland this season, the left-handed hitter is slashing .275/.357/.413 (113 wRC+) with three doubles, two triples, four home runs, 23 RBI, 26 runs scored, 17 walks, 38 strikeouts, and three stolen bases over 157 plate appearances.
Selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft, Casas participated in the Baseball Americas Qualifier Tournament in late May and early June and will once again be representing his country in the coming weeks.
Lopez, meanwhile, was added to Team USA’s roster after initially playing for Team Puerto Rico before they were eliminated from Olympic contention during qualifiers.
The 28-year-old originally inked a minor-league deal with the Sox in January after spending the first nine years of his professional career between the Royals and Braves organizations.
After opening the 2021 season with Double-A Portland, Lopez was promoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 11. Since then, the right-handed hitter has posted a .336/.369/.434 slash line (114 wRC+) to go along with eight doubles, one homer, 19 RBI, 18 runs scored, seven walks, 21 strikeouts, and seven stolen bases over the course of 33 games (122 plate appearances).
Despite playing nothing but second base, third base, and shortstop in his brief time with the WooSox, Lopez is listed as an outfielder on Team USA’s roster. This is the case because the former 16th-round draft pick out of Puerto Rico does have limited professional experience in both left and center field.
Speaking of outfielders, top Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran, like Casas, aided Team USA in qualifying for the Summer Games this spring and turned the heads of many while doing so.
That said, Duran was not named to the United States’ Olympic roster on Friday. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the reasoning behind this comes from the decision makers at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, not the Red Sox.
“The Red Sox would have been OK with him going, with the proviso that if they wanted to call him up, they could,” Speier wrote on Friday. “With visa requirements and the logistical challenges of replacing a player, the US elected not to include Duran on the roster for the same reason that the team doesn’t feature members of MLB 40-man rosters: Duran is de facto big league depth at this point.”
Duran, who turns 25 in September, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 25 prospect in all of baseball, ranking eighth among the game’s top young outfielders.
With the WooSox this season, Duran has proven that he is more than capable of handling Triple-A pitching, as he came into play Friday boasting a .278/.372/.599 batting line in addition to 15 homers and 31 RBI over 39 games.
The speedy outfielder has been on the verge of a big-league call up for quite some time now, and the fact that he will not be headed to Tokyo may signal that his impending promotion could be coming sooner rather than later.
As for the Olympic baseball tournament itself, Team USA will open play with a game against Team Israel on July 30. The tourney runs through August 7 as the U.S. will be going for its third gold medal in baseball.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Mark Brown/Getty Images)