Major League Baseball unveiled rosters for its six Arizona Fall League teams earlier Wednesday morning, and it turns out the Red Sox will be sending eight of their top prospects out west later this month.
After the COVID-19 pandemic halted things in 2020, the AFL is back in full swing this year, as the 2021 season is set to kick off on October 13.
The Red Sox, as well as the Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays, will all be represented by the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL East Division. The Scorpions play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium and their season will be six weeks in length.
So, without further ado, here are the prospects the Sox will have play for the Scorpions to begin the 2021 AFL season, though more could join this group as the fall rolls along.
Pitchers (4): Brendan Cellucci, Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski
Catchers (2): Kole Cottam, Connor Wong
Infielders (2): Triston Casas, Jeter Downs
Of these eight prospects, Triston Casas is the lone representative in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings.
Casas, regarded by BA as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 15 prospect in baseball, put together a strong 2021 campaign in which he helped Team USA win a silver medal in the Olympic Games in Tokyo over the summer.
In addition to being named the best first baseman in that particular tournament, the 21-year-old posted a .284/.395/.484 slash line to go along with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 77 games (329 plate appearances) with Double-A Portland before earning a late promotion to Triple-A Worcester on September 22.
With the WooSox, Casas appeared in nine games and batted .242/.381/.485 with three doubles, one triple, one homer, seven RBI, six runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and eight strikeouts over nine games (42 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.
Fellow infielder Jeter Downs was once included in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings, but has since fallen off that list on account of a poor offensive season with Worcester in which he put up a subpar 62 wRC+ across 405 plate appearances.
Still just 23 years old, Downs did at least end his season on a high note by slashing .314/.359/.514 (130 wRC+) with two home runs and seven RBI over his final 10 games (39 plate appearances) of the year from Sept. 16-30.
Like Downs, Connor Wong came over to the Red Sox as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020.
The 25-year-old backstop made his major-league debut for Boston in June of this season and was most-recently included in his first career postseason roster when the Sox defeated the Yankees in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Fenway Park.
Kole Cottam, meanwhile, split the season between High-A Greenville and Portland after earning a midseason promotion to the Double-A level towards the end of July.
In 25 games with the Sea Dogs, the 24-year-old hit an impressive .282/.337/.526 (131 wRC+) with five doubles, one triple, four home runs, nine runs driven in, 11 runs scored, three walks, and 33 strikeouts over the course of 86 total trips to the plate.
Regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the organization, Cottam also threw out two of the 15 base runners who attempted to steal off him while with Portland.
As for the pitchers who will be joining these position players in Arizona, Brendan Cellucci — the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per BA — appeared in 36 games for Greenville this season.
The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 5.30 ERA across 37 1/3 innings pitched in those outings with the Drive, though he also put up a much more respectable 3.98 ERA and 3.97 xFIP.
Andrew Politi, on the other hand, struggled to the tune of a 6.36 ERA (and 4.50 xFIP) across 21 appearances — 15 of which were starts — and 75 innings of work, though he did not allow a run over his final four outings of the season from Sept. 10 on.
Connor Seabold, like Wong, made his big-league debut for the Sox earlier this season, while Josh Winckowski closed out his year with back-to-back strong performances for the WooSox.
All in all, the Red Sox will be represented by eight prospects in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, which — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — will be used by Major League Baseball to test out different rile changes, such as pitch timers, limiting the shift, larger bases and the automatic strike zone.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)